Oh how the Remainers here and in the EU laughed! Boris ‘ran away’ and the brave PM of Luxembourg – a Mr Bettel (never heard of him? Me neither!) – was forced to hold his press conference without him! How devastatingly funny!
Firstly, here’s the DM’s detailed report, with videos. It’s not paywalled, so you can read it. In a separate article, the DM reports (here) that the protest was set up and led – by an opera singer from Canada! How a Canadian suddenly is a British expat – well, that’s his and the British reporters’ secret …
Before you think the DM has suddenly turned to supporting ‘Leave’, the last report on this spectacle shows nicely that it hasn’t. Titled ‘Twitter mocks Johnson’ the DM brings three (!) tweets from staunch Leavers Guy Verhofstadt and Gary Lineker. That’s it!
It’s the more astonishing as Leavers tweeted en masse during and after this ambush. Here, for example, is Julia Hartley-Brewer’s tweet, with embedded video. It is true that our MSM do turn up the background noise to emphasise the ‘anger of Remainers’. They did that at Johnson’s press conferences in 10 Downing Street, as those of us who watched at the time observed.
Here’s a tweet from Mr Hannan. Note that even Tory ‘rebels’, replying, are aghast. Someone ought to tell them though that their actions facilitated this ‘show’. You might think that BBC and SKY were actually relishing the humiliation of Johnson – I couldn’t possibly comment!
It is of course entirely up to tiny Luxembourg and its PM to show how much they loathe Brexit. After all, Luxembourg lives off the EU and would lose quite a bit of money when we Leave.
However, ask yourselves this: had this been the Chinese PM and had the protesters been Chinese dissidents, be it in Luxembourg, be it in Downing Street: would the police, would the security forces have allowed this protest to take place, within spitting distance of the PM?
In an astonishingly concerted effort by their various ‘EU correspondents’, headlines in the broadsheets were about Johnson having been ‘ambushed’, see e.g. The Times: “Brexit: Tory anger as Boris Johnson ambushed in Europe – Luxembourg leader attacks absent PM over Brexit” (link, paywalled), or the DT: “Brexit latest news: Boris Johnson walks into ambush as Luxembourg’s PM holds press conference next to empty podium” (paywalled link).
Michael Deacon asks in the DT: “Boris Johnson was humiliated in Luxembourg. Was that what the EU wanted all along?” (paywalled link). I think we know the answer to that question!
Finally, the DT’s EU correspondent James Crisp reports under this headline: “How Boris Johnson took his begging bowl to the EU – and Luxembourg laughed in his face” (paywalled link) and writes:
“The Prime Minister went to Luxembourg as a favour to Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, and walked straight into an ambush. Boris Johnson was meant to be holding a joint outdoor press conference with Xavier Bettel, the prime minister of Luxembourg after meeting Mr Juncker. However, he cancelled, fearing his words would be drowned out by a band of 75 vocal anti-Brexit protesters ranged just 10 yards away.” (paywalled link)
So far so correct. I wonder though if Mr Crisp, if M Bettel, thought those protesters were calmly going to let Johnson speak! There’s more:
“Mr Bettel took full advantage. Gesticulating to the empty podium beside him, he said Brexit was a “nightmare”, before criticising the referendum campaign. […] As for the Prime Minister’s vow to break the law rather than ask for a Brexit extension, “that wouldn’t happen in Luxembourg” – and it was Mr Johnson’s responsibility to find a solution to the deadlock, he continued. People in Britain and the EU needed certainty, he said.” (paywalled link)
How another extension is going to give ‘certainty’ is M Bettel’s and the EU’s secret. Mr Crisp concludes his report thus:
“Soon after, the commission released a press statement warning that no concrete proposals over the Irish backstop had been made. It was Britain’s responsibility to come forward with such proposals, the commission said. The pincer attack made a mockery of British claims of progress and momentum. Mr Johnson’s experience of fear and loathing in Luxembourg could not have been worse.” (paywalled link)
Amazing, isn’t it: it’s the same old same old from the EU and from our Remain EU correspondents! In the DT’s “Brexit Live” feature, updated regularly as ‘events’ unfolded, we got a slightly different picture:
“Almost immediately after they left the building, the European Commission released a statement confirming that the UK had still not made “legally operational solutions” to replace the Irish backstop. It said: “President Juncker recalled that it is the UK’s responsibility to come forward with legally operational solutions that are compatible with the Withdrawal Agreement. President Juncker underlined the Commission’s continued willingness and openness to examine whether such proposals meet the objectives of the backstop. Such proposals have not yet been made.” (paywalled link)
Look – we got a new expression: ‘legally operational solutions’. What are these when they are at home? Personally, I think this is the latest EU way to say ‘non – nein – no’.
The next update, posted an hour later, was about that press conference with M Bettel as it was taking place. The following Bettel statements though were left on the cutting floor of this morning’s reports:
“Speaking next to an empty lectern, Mr Bettel claimed that the “only solution” that protected the EU’s single market and prevented a hard Irish border was the “Withdrawal Agreement [already on the table].” Whilst Mr Johnson had travelled to Luxembourg to discuss proposals to replace the backstop with alternative solutions, Mr Bettel added that the EU “need more than just words. 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. We need a legally operative text as soon as possible if we want to meet the October deadline.” (paywalled link)
Fascinating, isn’t it, how M Bettel sang from the same EU songsheet, using the same expression of ‘legally operative’ text, even though, according to Mr Crisp’s report, the EU statement was released after that Bettel press conference.
A certain German Minister, 80 or so years ago, used this instrument to perfection. It’s called ‘Sprachregelung’, i.e. directive to the press regarding what is permitted to write.
Moreover, this ‘event’ documents incontrovertibly – as if we needed it! – that the Remain crowd, bussed in, organised by non-Brits, paid by you-know-who, is as unpatriotic as can be. Their message to the EU yesterday was clear: do your worst, we support you against the UK, against the UK government, against the British people.
While Juncker, Barnier and the rest were playing their usual EU game of ‘the UK hasn’t done their homework’ – something we’ve now heard for two years – there’s been one rather remarkable article yesterday afternoon in the German paper ‘Die Welt’. The title is ‘Der harte Brexit ist die beste Lösung’, translated: “Hard Brexit is the best solution”.
Here’s the link for all who have a good machine translator. The author, director of the influential German DIW, writes that a hard Brexit is now unavoidable, that it’s a question not of ‘if’ but ‘when’, that the Backstop is unacceptable to the UK and that the EU would do better to accept that.
Moreover, the EU should not agree to further extensions because this would be damaging not only to the EU economy but damages domestic politics in the UK which in turn would damage those in the EU member states.
One wonders if this is a trial balloon, silently permitted to ascend by Ms Merkel in the hope to influence the Barniers and Junckers in the forthcoming negotiations.
We’ll have to wait and see, as we have to wait and see if Johnson can pull some rabbits out of his top hat which are not the May WA warmed over. Meanwhile, we’ll also have to wait and see what the supreme court decides later today in the Miller-Major Prorogation case.
There’s one more headline which caught my eye: “Weather forecast: Polar blast to spark deep freeze in Europe within days amid -10C plunge”. If that’s true, I won’t suppress my schadenfreude! Freeze, EU – freeze! Serves you right! Meanwhile, we’ll enjoy our British weather and will