Boris Johnson’s ‘ambush’ in Luxembourg makes headlines

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's trip to the continent makes headlines in Tuesday's papers with some calling it a "humiliation" and others an "ambush".

Mr Johnson travelled to Luxembourg for his first face-to-face meeting with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker since entering Downing Street.

But it was an afternoon press conference – where Luxembourg PM Xavier Bettel continued despite Mr Johnson pulling out of a speech due to the noise of protesters – which has become one of the main talking points.

The Daily Mail leads with the headline Le Stitch Up, referring to Mr Bettel's actions as a "calculated diplomatic snub".

The paper's leader column adds that Brussels is "playing with fire" if it wills Mr Johnson to fail.

The column says: "The Prime Minister came in peace – to begin negotiations over risotto for an eleventh-hour Brexit deal with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.

"Instead, he found himself served up as the dish in a media stunt designed to publicly humiliate him.

"The Prime Minister must keep his calm and remain focused on a deal. In doing so, he forces his opponents to show their true colours. Whatever happens, he must not be the cause of failure."

"No wonder Britain voted to quit the EU" runs the headline in the Daily Express, while the Daily Telegraph says Mr Johnson walked into an "ambush".

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Boris Johnson in Luxembourg
LUXEMBOURG, LUXEMBOURG - SEPTEMBER 16: Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel speaks to the media following talks with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on September 16, 2019 in Luxembourg, Luxembourg. Johnson met with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker for a working lunch earlier today. Johnson is pressing forward for a possible hard Brexit, though he has also been meeting with European leaders recently in an apparent effort to still strike a Brexit deal. (Photo by Joshua Sammer/Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the UK ambassadors residence after meeting Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel in Luxembourg.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson arriving at the UK ambassador's residence after meeting Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel in Luxembourg.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson arriving for his meeting with Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel at the Ministry of State in Luxembourg. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is greeted by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, outside Le Bouquet Garni restaurant in Luxembourg, prior to a working lunch on Brexit. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, inside Le Bouquet Garni restaurant in Luxembourg, prior to a working lunch on Brexit. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker leaving Le Bouquet Garni restaurant in Luxembourg after their working lunch on Brexit. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
LUXEMBOURG, LUXEMBOURG - SEPTEMBER 16: European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker greets British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the European Commission Representation on September 16, 2019 in Luxembourg. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is holding his first meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in search of a Brexit deal. (Photo by Francisco Seco - Pool/Getty Images)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker leaving Le Bouquet Garni restaurant in Luxembourg after their working lunch on Brexit. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
Protesters outside the Luxembourg Ministry of State in Luxembourg, prior to a meeting between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
LUXEMBOURG, LUXEMBOURG - SEPTEMBER 16: European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker (R) poses with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson prior to a meeting at a restaurant on September 16, 2019 in Luxembourg. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is holding his first meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in search of a Brexit deal. (Photo by Francisco Seco - Pool/Getty Images)
Protesters outside the Luxembourg Ministry of State in Luxembourg, prior to a meeting between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
Protesters outside the Luxembourg Ministry of State in Luxembourg, prior to a meeting between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel. (Photo by Stefan Rousseau/PA Images via Getty Images)
Protestors hold placards as they look on outside the venue for talks between the British Prime Minister and EU Commission president in Luxembourg on September 16, 2019. - Six weeks before he is due to lead Britain out of the European Union, Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets Jean-Claude Juncker, insisting that a Brexit deal is possible. Downing Street has confidently billed the Luxembourg visit as part of efforts to negotiate an orderly divorce from the union before an October 17 EU summit. (Photo by François WALSCHAERTS / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS WALSCHAERTS/AFP/Getty Images)
Protestors hold placards as they look on outside the venue for talks between the British Prime Minister and EU Commission president in Luxembourg on September 16, 2019. - Six weeks before he is due to lead Britain out of the European Union, Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets Jean-Claude Juncker, insisting that a Brexit deal is possible. Downing Street has confidently billed the Luxembourg visit as part of efforts to negotiate an orderly divorce from the union before an October 17 EU summit. (Photo by François WALSCHAERTS / AFP) (Photo credit should read FRANCOIS WALSCHAERTS/AFP/Getty Images)
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Their leader, similar to that of the Mail, questions whether the EU is serious about wanting a deal with Mr Johnson's UK.

"His working lunch with Jean-Claude Juncker and Michel Barnier was an opportunity to reset the negotiations and put them on course for an agreement by October 31," it says.

"Instead, there was a deliberate attempt to humiliate the British Prime Minister by staging a press conference from which he was absent.

"The 'empty lectern' approach adopted by Xavier Bettel, Luxembourg's prime minister, was hardly a friendly or constructive act."

The Sun refers to the EU's "snakes", saying that "decency and courtesy" saw seen the press conference moved inside, while the Daily Mirror calls Mr Johnson a "hulking great mess", with its leader saying "Boris Johnson is not the Incredible Hulk, he's the Incompetent Sulk".

"If he can't take the heat, he should get out of the kitchen. This is a moment in history when a statesman is needed, not this big baby," it adds.

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