Britain must make proposals to replace backstop, EU’s Juncker tells PM Johnson

Britain must make proposals to replace backstop, EU’s Juncker tells PM Johnson

Luxembourg's premier, Xavier Bettel, went ahead with the briefing in front of flags from his country and the United Kingdom and an empty podium where Johnson was meant to have stood, telling the absent prime minister: "The time is ticking".

Others suggested Mr Johnson was a "chicken", a parody of a Conservative attack on Jeremy Corbyn after the Labour leader blocked a snap election. Instead, he left without making any progress and only exposed the growing gulf between his flowery language and the skepticism of the EU.

But he said it would require movement from the European Union side and the Prime Minister again insisted that the United Kingdom would leave - with or without an agreement - on October 31.

His bold talk didn't appear to do much good.

After a two-hour lunch meeting over fish and risotto in Juncker's native Luxembourg, the European Commission said that Britain had yet to offer any "legally operational" solutions to the problem of keeping goods and people flowing freely across the Irish border, the main roadblock to a deal.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also met with Johnson on Monday for the first time since the British leader took over 10 Downing Street in July.

"So now it's on Mr Johnson, he holds the future of all the United Kingdom citizens and every European Union citizen living in the United Kingdom in his hands", he said as protesters watching the press conference cheered. Mr. Johnson wanted the media briefing moved indoors because of a group of noisy protesters but Mr. Bettel refused.

But the enduring image of the day was likely to be the empty podium alongside Bettel after Johnson's weekend bluster about being like the Hulk. In an extraordinary exchange with reporters, Mr. Bettel unloaded on the absent Prime Minister and took him to task for failing to come up with any proposals.

Gesturing to the empty space where Mr Johnson should have been, Mr Bettel said: 'It's his responsibility.

"There are no changes, there are no concrete proposals for the moment on the table and I won't give an agreement to ideas", he said, urging Britain to come up with "written proposals". "We need a legally operable text to work on as soon as possible".

"And I think that they've had a bellyful of all this stuff".

Mr Johnson, who recently held talks with the leaders of Germany, France and Ireland, told the Mail on Sunday "there's a very, very good conversation going on about how to address the issues of the Northern Irish border".

"When Mr Bettel spoke I asked the crowd to be quiet and they were".

Visiting UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was left humiliated after his Luxembourgish host effectively empty-chaired him on Monday, before criticising Johnson's handling of the Brexit negotiations and accusing the Leave campaign, which Johnson had fronted, of lying during the 2016 referendum campaign.

Johnson seems to be calculating that fears of the economic consequences of a no-deal Brexit will drive European Union leaders to make concessions at a last-call summit that begins October 17. "The fact is some people would love to give the blame to another and not [take] responsibility for the situation", he said.

Mr Johnson 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.

"We did not decide to organise Brexit".

The visibly frustrated Luxembourg leader said said Brexit had become a "nightmare", and United Kingdom and European citizens face huge uncertainty. "But it is not now in a unilateral way that the United Kingdom government will decide its next relations with the European Union". But he still made clear that there was little progress.

"So far I haven't seen any proposal that would compensate the backstop". Everybody could see roughly what could be done.

"But it will require movement".

He also accused critics of Parliament's suspension of talking "mumbo-jumbo", saying suggestions it had stopped MPs from doing their job was "claptrap".

"If people put into government as a majority government, the "Stop Brexit" party, then stopping Brexit is exactly what people will get", party leader Jo Swinson said. As for the news conference debacle, Mr. Johnson played down the mix up.

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