Boris Johnson press conference 'humiliation' prompts anger and derision in newspaper headlines

‘Boris Johnson is not the Incredible Hulk, he’s the Incompetent Sulk’

Alexander Britton
Tuesday 17 September 2019 08:58
Boris Johnson explains why he did not take part in a press conference alongside Luxembourg PM Xavier Bettel

Boris Johnson‘s trip to the continent was labelled a “humiliation” and an “ambush” as it made headlines across Tuesday’s papers.

The prime minister travelled to Luxembourg for his first face-to-face meeting with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker since entering Downing Street.

But it was an afternoon press conference that became the main talking point, after Luxembourg’s prime minister, Xavier Bettel, went ahead despite Mr Johnson pulling out of a speech due to the noise of protesters.

The Daily Mail leads with the headline “Le Stitch Up”, referring to Mr Bettel’s actions as a “calculated diplomatic snub”.

The paper’s leader column adds that Brussels is “playing with fire” if it wills Mr Johnson to fail.

The column says: “The prime minister came in peace – to begin negotiations over risotto for an eleventh-hour Brexit deal with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.

“Instead, he found himself served up as the dish in a media stunt designed to publicly humiliate him.

“No wonder Britain voted to quit the EU” runs the headline in the Daily Express, while The Daily Telegraph says Mr Johnson walked into an “ambush”.

Their leader, similar to that of the Mail, questions whether the EU is serious about wanting a deal with the UK.

“His working lunch with Jean-Claude Juncker and Michel Barnier was an opportunity to reset the negotiations and put them on course for an agreement by 31 October,” it says.

“Instead, there was a deliberate attempt to humiliate the British prime minister by staging a press conference from which he was absent.

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“The ‘empty lectern’ approach adopted by Xavier Bettel, Luxembourg’s prime minister, was hardly a friendly or constructive act.”

The Sun refers to the EU’s “snakes”, saying that “decency and courtesy” should have seen the press conference moved inside, while the Daily Mirror calls Mr Johnson a “hulking great mess”, with its leader saying “Boris Johnson is not the Incredible Hulk, he’s the Incompetent Sulk”.

“If he can’t take the heat, he should get out of the kitchen. This is a moment in history when a statesman is needed, not this big baby,” it adds.

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