Boris Johnson was humiliated for refusing to face the music for his chaotic Brexit strategy.
The PM chickened out of a press conference as he was faced with noisy protestors in Luxembourg.
Furious Luxembourg PM Xavier Bettel gestured at the empty podium next to him, where Mr Johnson had been due to answer questions as time runs out to clinch a deal before the October 31 deadline.
He slammed the Tory for playing politics with people’s lives, and criticised him for refusing to put concrete proposals on the table, warning: “The clock is ticking.”
There were farcical scenes on Monday afternoon
The PM was earlier booed and jeered as he left a working lunch in Luxembourg with European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker.
A statement released after the meeting said he had failed to propose any “legally operable solutions” to the Brexit stalemate.
Labour accused Mr Johnson of running scared from scrutiny.
Shadow Brexit Secretary Keir Starmer told the Mirror: “The fact Boris Johnson couldn’t be bothered to turn up to the press conference tells you everything you need to know about his approach to Brexit.
Boris Johnson refused to show for the press conference
(Image: JULIEN WARNAND/EPA-EFE/REX)
Boris Johnson poses for photographers on the balcony of the UK ambassador’s residence
(Image: Getty Images)
“He has no plan, he is incapable of negotiating and he is afraid of scrutiny. “It is as irresponsible as it is pathetic, and it’s not in Britain’s interests.”
Downing Street claimed they had asked for the event to be moved inside but the Luxembourg government rejected the request.
Mr Johnson later told the BBC the Brexit talks were in a ‘difficult moment’ and that he had pulled out of the press conference because his points would have been ‘drowned out’ by all the noise.
And he refused to deny he was looking for a ‘way round’ the law imposed by Parliament to avoid a damaging no deal Brexit .
The PM insisted he was working ‘flat out’ to get a deal and said he was ‘cautiously optimistic’ for a breakthrough.
But there was rising concern he is not serious about reaching agreement – and is prepared to ignore the law and crash out instead.
Boris Johnson leaves after a meeting with Acting European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker
(Image: JULIEN WARNAND/EPA-EFE/REX)
No 10 insiders suggested the Government would not publish any plans for ‘alternative arrangements’ for the controversial Irish border backstop – the key sticking point – until after the PM gets back from a big United Nations meeting next week.
One source claimed the ‘important thing is that these conversations are taking place’ but there was still ‘some significant distance’ to run before any proposal could be put in writing.
They added that the PM did not believe this was ‘the right time’ to produce a ‘piece of paper’ for the EU.
But an incensed Mr Bettel, gesturing towards the empty podium, laid bare his fury at Mr Johnson’s strategy.
“Our people need to know what is going to happen to them in six weeks’ time.
“They need clarity, they need certainty, and they need stability. You can’t hold their future hostage for party political gains,” he said.
“So now it’s on Mr Johnson. He holds the future of all EU citizens and every EU citizen living in the UK in his hands.
“It’s his responsibility. Your people, our people, count on you. But the clock is ticking.
“Use your time wisely.”
A snap of the two politicians before the working lunch
He added: “We need written proposals and the time is ticking. So stop speaking, but act if you want that we are able to discuss about different proposals.”
And in a brutal put-down the Luxembourg PM, whose country has a population around the size of Manchester, claimed the Brexit referendum was won through ‘lies’.
The Luxembourg protest was organised by David Pike, a classical baritone singer with joint Canadian, British and Luxembourg nationality.
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“These people don’t go on protests. They are professionals. Boring people. “People who are concerned about this catastrophe,” he said.
By this weekend it will be a month since German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested the UK had 30 days to solve Brexit.
It comes ahead of the Supreme Court beginning a hearing today )TUE) into the legality of Mr Johnson suspending Parliament.
Former Justice Secretary David Gauke, one of the 21 Tory moderates kicked out of the party, said: “Maybe the Incredible Hulk doesn’t have to comply with the law, but the British Government does.”