Brexit: Boris Johnson attacked by Luxembourg PM over ‘nightmare’

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Luxembourg’s PM has attacked Boris Johnson’s approach to Brexit, calling the situation a “nightmare”.

Xavier Bettel said the British government had failed to put forward any serious proposals for a new deal.

But Mr Johnson, who pulled out of a joint press conference with Mr Bettel because of noisy protesters, said there was still a good chance of a deal.

A government source said the gap the UK and Brussels needed to bridge to achieve a deal “remains quite large”. 

Mr Johnson was visiting Luxembourg to hold talks with the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, as well as Mr Bettel. 

After the working lunch with Mr Juncker and Mr Barnier, Mr Johnson said he had been encouraged by the EU’s willingness to engage with the UK in their shared desire to avoid a no-deal exit – but there had not been a “total breakthrough”. 

However, the European Commission said the PM had yet to present concrete proposals for it to consider and insisted any new plans had to be “compatible” with the existing withdrawal agreement, which has been rejected three times by MPs.

There was then confusion after Mr Bettel held a press conference without Mr Johnson amid noisy protests by anti-Brexit protesters.

Mr Bettel, who addressed the media on his own after the UK PM pulled out, said his counterpart “holds the future of all UK citizens in his hands” and suggested it was his responsibility to break the deadlock in the process.

Standing next to an empty lectern, Mr Bettel warned Mr Johnson “you can’t hold the future hostage for party political gain”. 

He said there were “no concrete proposals at the moment on the table” on a new Brexit deal from the UK and said the EU “needs more than just words”.

“We need written proposals and the time is ticking, so stop speaking and act,” he said.

The existing withdrawal agreement was the “only solution”, he added.

Mr Johnson said his joint press conference was cancelled over fears the two leaders would have been “drowned out” by pro-EU protesters.

It is understood that his request for it to be held inside was turned down.

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