Ahead of Monday Brexit talks, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed that he was like the Incredible Hulk, who gets stronger when he gets angrier. Hundreds of demonstrators showed their disapproval through Luxembourg City’s medieval streets over his plans to steer the country out of the European Union on Oct. 31.
The protests were so strong that Johnson canceled his half of a planned news conference alongside Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel. As a result, Bettel gestured to an empty podium while suggesting that Johnson had misled the British public during the 2016 Brexit campaign and now was holding Europe’s future “hostage for party political gains.”
Bettel said, “Before Brexit, people said to some voters that they will get money back from social insurance, that Brexit will be done in 24 hours and everything will be good… No one was able to say, ‘Sorry, this is a lie.’ “
EU leaders have been sensitive to the idea that Johnson is setting the base of the blame for the failure of Brexit. “Now it’s on Mr. Johnson – he holds the future of all U.K. citizens and every EU citizen living in the U.K. in his hands. It’s his responsibility,” said Bettel.
“We need written proposals and time is ticking. So stop speaking and act,” Bettel said.
Later, Johnson told reporters that he had bowed out of the news conference because “I don’t think it would have been fair to the prime minister of Luxembourg. I think there was clearly going to be a lot of noise, and I think our points might have been drowned out.”
Conservative lawmaker Daniel Hannan tweeted, “The Luxembourg PM chose to go ahead with what was, in effect, an anti-Brexit rally rather than a news conference.”
“Petty but calculated gestures of this kind from Euro-federalists pushed Britain into wanting to leave in the first place,” he added. On Monday, Johnson got a gentler reception from European President Jean-Claude Juncker, a backslapping politician of the old school.
However, Johnson is seeking a way to keep Northern Ireland partly joined with EU regulations to avoid a hard border with Ireland, but the EU negotiators claimed that they are not specific enough to negotiate in earnest.
Finnish European Affairs Minister Tytti Tuppurainen said Monday, “The European Union is always to ready to negotiate with a proper proposal from the United Kingdom side.”
The British PM compared himself to the incredible Hulk superhero from movies and comic books drew dismay from European policymakers, who said it was unlikely to help reach a deal.
On Sunday, he said that “Banner might be bound in manacles, but when provoked he would explode out of them.”
“Hulk always escaped, no matter how tightly bound in he seemed to be – and that is the case for this country. We will come out on 31 October and we will get it done.”
“The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets,” he said.