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Fury at Luxembourg PM Xavier Bettel after he 'stitches up' Boris Johnson

brexit countdown_bgCreated with Sketch.Luxembourg's Prime Minister Xavier Bettel faced a wave of British fury last night after he 'stitched up' Boris Johnson by staging a solo press conference next to angry protesters and berating the British PM in public. Mr Bettel brazenly went ahead with the press conference with an empty podium next to him, after Mr Johnson refused to take part in the media call just yards from noisy demonstrations by British expats yesterday.  In a brutal rant at the absent PM, Mr Bettel then said: 'The clock is ticking... We need more than just words.' Pro-Brexit Tory Daniel Kawczynski said the scenes only underlined the need for Britain to get out of the 'artificial arrogant EU structure' as quickly as possible.'Luxembourg PM representing a nation smaller than Birmingham admonishing and being disrespectful to a British PM for trying to fulfil will of British people,' Mr Kawczynski said. 'We need to pull out of EU on October 31 without doubt. We fund the EU to the tune of billions every year, not sure what Luxembourg's contribution has been.' Former Brexit minister David Jones said Mr Bettel had made a 'big mistake' which would outrage many of his own people.'I have no doubt that very many Luxembourgers are dismayed by their Prime Minister's extraordinary behaviour,' he commented last night. Even some pro-EU MPs supported Mr Johnson's decision to walk out. Sir Nicholas Soames, one of 21 MPs to have the Conservative whip removed by Mr Johnson for rebelling over Brexit, accused Mr Bettel of 'unhelpful grandstanding'.'Very poor behaviour by Luxembourg. Boris Johnson quite right not to be made a fool of,' he said. Mr Bettel - who apparently told protesters earlier that they were 'welcome' - gestured to the empty space where Mr Johnson should have been and said: 'It's his responsibility. Your people, our people, count on you - but the clock is ticking, use your time wisely.' It was the second time in just two hours that Mr Johnson had been barracked by protesters, after he was jeered on the way out of lunch with EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker elsewhere in Luxembourg. But the slight from Mr Bettel - whose country has a population of just 600,000 people and an economy around half the size of the NHS's annual budget - will have been particularly stinging.  Speaking to UK reporters separately after the full-frontal attack, Mr Johnson said he knew he would have been 'drowned out' if he took part in the press conference outside.'I don't think it would've been fair to the prime minister of Luxembourg. I think there was clearly going to be a lot of noise,' he said. 'And I think our points might've been drowned out.' No10 sources also took a swipe at Mr Bettel by suggesting he had deliberately tried to embarrass the PM, stating: 'We went to Luxembourg to see Juncker, not him.' And Tory Brexiteers vented fury, with one MP saying: 'We fund the EU to the tune of billions every year - not sure what Luxembourg's contribution has been.'  Even anti-No Deal rebels voiced dismay at the slight, with a former minister saying Mr Bettel had been 'rude' and would only 'inflame' Eurosceptic sentiment in the UK.  Speaking to reporters at the UK ambassador's residence, where he retreated after the clash with Mr Bettel, Mr Johnson also flatly denied a claim from Mr Juncker that there had not yet been any 'legally operational' proposals put forward by the UK as an alternative to the backstop. 'Papers have been shared but we are now at the stage where we need to start accelerating that work,' he said. Mr Johnson said he still believed there was a 'good chance' of a deal, but it will 'require movement' from the EU. He told the BBC he intended to stick to his pledge to deliver Brexit with or without a deal and that he would 'uphold the constitution, I will obey the law, but we will come out on October 31st'.He said staying in the EU beyond the Halloween deadline would be 'crackers' as he also took aim at MPs who have criticised the government for proroguing Parliament in the run up to Brexit. He said: 'By the way, all this mumbo jumbo about how Parliament is being deprived of the opportunity to scrutinise Brexit. What a load of claptrap. Actually, Parliament I think has lost about four or five days.' Earlier, he had underlined to Mr Juncker that he will not ask for a Brexit delay beyond the current departure date. The PM's trip to Luxembourg came after he suggested yesterday that Britain would only get angrier if it did not break free of the EU's 'manacles', like The Incredible Hulk. After the talks with Mr Bettel, Mr Johnson decided to only give a statement to a small group of journalists assembled at the nearby residence of the British ambassador, after dozens of demonstrators with a loud speaker heckled him from behind the gate. The PM denied that the UK's attempts at negotiations were a sham and said there is still 'hard work to be done' in securing a fresh deal. Luxembourg PM's extraordinary 'empty podium' rant at Boris Johnson    Xavier Bettel sparked an extraordinary public spat with Boris Johnson yesterday after refusing to move a press conference away from protesters.The Luxembourg PM accused Mr Johnson of holding the future of UK and EU citizens 'hostage for party political gains'.Gesturing to the empty podium where Mr Johnson should have been, Mr Bettel said: 'Now it's on Mr Johnson - he holds the future of all UK 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.'Mr Bettel, answering questions from reporters, said: 'For me I just have one Withdrawal Agreement on the table and it's the one from last year.'There are no changes. There are no concrete proposals for the moment on the table. And I won't give an agreement to ideas. We need written proposals and the time is ticking.'Mr Bettel told Mr Johnson to 'stop speaking and act', adding: 'But we won't accept any agreement that goes against a single market, who will be against the Good Friday Agreement.'He said: 'This Brexit it's not my choice.'It's been a decision from a party, a decision from David Cameron to do it. They decide, I deeply regret it but don't put the blame on us because now they don't know how to get out of this situation.'Mr Bettel said the EU side would not be responsible if the two sides were unable to reach agreement on a new Brexit deal.'Some people would love to give the blame to another and not be responsible for the situation,' he said.'Theresa May accepted the Withdrawal Agreement. So don't make it like the European Union is the bad guy not accepting decisions the UK proposes. They accepted them.'These are home-made problems. I won't accept any time to be responsible as a European leader... for, I am sorry, the mess we are in for the moment.'He said: 'Yes, we've got a good chance of a deal. Yes, I can see the shape of it. Everybody could see roughly what could be done. 'But it will require movement. And it will require the system in which the EU can control the UK after we leave - the so-called backstop - to go from that treaty. And that needs to happen. 'That's a big change that we need to get done. But if we can get that done, as I've said before, then we're at the races. 'I think we've got actually just the right amount of time to do a deal between now and October 17-18. But if we can't do it by then we will make sure we can come out on October 31 - deal or no deal.' Mr Johnson later told the BBC that he would not agree to a further Brexit delay because of the cost of staying in the EU. He said: 'What we're going to do is come out on October 31st, deal or No Deal. And staying in beyond October 31st is completely crackers. 'You're spending a billion pounds a month... what is the point?'  The Luxembourg PM accused Mr Johnson of holding the future of UK and EU citizens 'hostage for party political gains'.Mr Bettel said: 'Now it's on Mr Johnson - he holds the future of all UK 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.'Mr Bettel, answering questions from reporters, said: 'For me I just have one Withdrawal Agreement on the table and it's the one from last year.'There are no changes. There are no concrete proposals for the moment on the table. And I won't give an agreement to ideas. We need written proposals and the time is ticking.'Mr Bettel, who has been PM since 2013 but is little-known in the UK, told Mr Johnson to 'stop speaking and act', adding: 'But we won't accept any agreement that goes against a single market, who will be against the Good Friday Agreement.'He said: 'This Brexit it's not my choice.'It's been a decision from a party, a decision from David Cameron to do it. They decide, I deeply regret it but don't put the blame on us because now they don't know how to get out of this situation.'Mr Bettel said the EU side would not be responsible if the two sides were unable to reach agreement on a new Brexit deal.'Some people would love to give the blame to another and not be responsible for the situation,' he said.'Theresa May accepted the Withdrawal Agreement. So don't make it like the European Union is the bad guy not accepting decisions the UK proposes. They accepted them.'These are home-made problems. I won't accept any time to be responsible as a European leader... for, I am sorry, the mess we are in for the moment.'Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski said: 'Conduct of Luxembourg PM towards our Prime Minister today only accentuates the need for us to pull out of this artificial arrogant EU structure as quickly as possible.' Nick Boles, an MP who left the Tories due to Mr Johnson's hardline Brexit stance, said: 'It was rude of Luxembourg's PM not to move the press conference inside. Most voters will resent the slight... Leave voters' antipathy to the EU will be inflamed.'Who is Xavier Bettel?Xavier Bettel has been the prime minister of Luxembourg since 2013. He has been a vocal critic of Brexit and the amount of time it has taken the UK to set out the terms on which it wants to leave the EU. Speaking in the run up to the original March 2019 Brexit deadline, he said: 'We don't force the United Kingdom, you decided to leave, we shouldn't exchange roles.'You want us to be the bad guy. You decided. You decided. You decided.'We have to just find a deal and we negotiated the deal, we found the best possible deal and we are not in a souk where we are going to bargain for the next five years.'The 46-year-old is married and in 2018 he became the first openly gay PM in the world to be re-elected for a second term in office. He previously served as the Mayor of Luxembourg City between November 2011 and December 2013. He then led the Democratic Party into Luxembourg's national elections in 2013, finishing third. However, he was invited to form the next government and became PM, leading a coalition of the Democratic Party, Luxembourg Socialist Workers' Party and The Greens. The government remained a rainbow coalition after elections last year.   But he added that voters would be 'unimpressed by Johnson's failure to command respect or impose himself on events'. It was the PM's second bruising encounter of the day on his visit to Luxembourg, after a two-hour showdown with Mr Juncker over lunch - the first time they had met since he entered No10. According to a readout issued by the EU, Mr Juncker told Mr Johnson it was the 'UK's responsibility to come forward with legally operational solutions that are compatible with the Withdrawal Agreement'.He 'underlined the commission's continued willingness and openness to examine whether such proposals meet the objectives of the backstop', but added: 'Such proposals have not yet been made.' Downing Street said Mr Johnson 'reconfirmed his commitment to the Good Friday Agreement and his determination to reach a deal with the backstop removed, that UK parliamentarians could support'. 'The Prime Minister also reiterated that he would not request an extension and would take the UK out of the EU on the 31st October,' a spokeswoman said.'The leaders agreed that the discussions needed to ...Read more

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