Boris Johnson was left humiliated and his claims of progress in the Brexit negotiations in tatters after a chaotic visit to Luxembourg ended in the prime minister being mocked by a fellow European leader for cancelling a press appearance to avoid protesters.
Johnson was booed and jeered as he left a working lunch with the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, before opting out of plans to speak alongside Luxembourg’s prime minister, Xavier Bettel, after being targeted by a larger crowd.
The cancellation left Johnson scuttling past the waiting lecterns in a courtyard outside the prime minister’s office to chants of “bollocks to Brexit” and “bog off Boris” by protesters a few metres away.
As the chaotic scenes were played out, the European commission issued a statement disclosing that Juncker had told the prime minister that it was his responsibility to come forward with legally operational solutions and that “such proposals have not yet been made”, in contradiction of the government’s recent claims.
The prime minister’s dash to Luxembourg was supposed to have been a key moment for him to illustrate that Brexit talks were moving towards a deal, with Downing Street briefing after the meeting with Juncker that negotiations in Brussels would move from being bi-weekly to daily.
But the anger from Britons living in Luxembourg, and the exasperation of the EU leaders spilled over as Johnson moved between meetings.