What’s the point of Boris Johnson meeting Jean-Claude Juncker?

The prime minister’s visit is all about optics, Jon Stone explains

Friday 13 September 2019 18:18
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Johnson won’t be rushing to save the day with a binder of technical specs and a backstop solution
Johnson won’t be rushing to save the day with a binder of technical specs and a backstop solution

Boris Johnson is going to Luxembourg on Monday to meet with Jean-Claude Juncker for a “working lunch” to discuss Brexit. The location is an unusual one, given Mr Juncker is based in Brussels.

The choice of venue has led to speculation that the prime minister wants to avoid being seen to go to the EU capital begging for concessions from the EU – an attempt to learn from the past jaunts of Theresa May, which were always framed as such.

Fair enough: politicians will politic. But the focus on the optics of the visit does raise another question: is there actually any point to such a meeting? It will certainly provide a photo-op for the prime minister, who wants to be seen to be trying to get a deal. But what of the actual substance?

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