Belfast Telegraph

Home News UK

Remain protesters greet Boris Johnson after Juncker meeting

Mr Johnson hastily left in a car without giving any answers.

Protesters outside Le Bouquet Garni restaurant in Luxembourg (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Protesters outside Le Bouquet Garni restaurant in Luxembourg (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

By Sam Blewett, PA Political Correspondent, in Luxembourg

Pro-EU protesters were ready to greet Boris Johnson in Luxembourg as he left his first meeting as Prime Minister with commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.

“Go home Boris” and “stop Brexit” were among the loudest cries in the barrage directed at the Prime Minister after he left a two-hour lunch alongside the EU’s chief.

The “working lunch” between the prominent Brexiteer and the president of the institution he is vocally desperate to leave was described by Mr Juncker as “friendly” and as “constructive” by Downing Street.

But it also contained tensions and there was little sign of any breakthrough.

The European Commission said Mr Juncker reminded the PM that it is the UK’s responsibility to propose “legally operational solutions” compatible with the Withdrawal Agreement and give solutions compatible with the Irish backstop.

“Such proposals have not yet been made,” said the statement after the lunch at Le Bouquet Garni in Luxembourg City’s medieval heart.

Downing Street said the PM reiterated that he would pull the UK out of the bloc by the October 31 deadline – regardless of whether MPs approve a deal.

And, Number 10 added, the leaders agreed that discussions would have to “intensify” and should soon take place daily.

The setting of a closed-off restaurant situated in an 18th century house, and not an EU or UK building, was said by officials to be a “neutral location” for their Brexit discussions.

They talked about the ongoing discussions between the UK and the EU in the hope of finding a way forward.

But their rhetoric has long suggested they remain far apart – with the Irish backstop to prevent a hard border remaining a major sticking point.

The setting for the meeting was described by Michelin guide inspectors described the restaurant as being “steeped in charm” and seeking to “enhance and develop the strength of classical dishes”.

bpanews_0e3192f2-c520-49ec-a55a-fd23816ce5f7_embedded245298210
A place setting at Le Bouquet Garni restaurant in Luxembourg (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The “menu gourmand” costs 55 euro – or £48 with the falling price of sterling amid Brexit chaos and uncertainty.

Foie gras, fillet of beef with an apple fondant and mushrooms or “the inevitable” creme brulee are all options for the customer with a big enough wallet.

While the restaurant itself was closed to the public, the streets were not and British Remain-backers headed to the square to call on the PM to hold another referendum or revoke Article 50.

bpanews_0e3192f2-c520-49ec-a55a-fd23816ce5f7_embedded245300543
Members of the public and media outside Le Bouquet Garni restaurant (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

“I think the whole referendum was based on a pack of lies,” said Anthea MacDonald, a retired teacher who has gained dual citizenship from Luxembourg since the referendum.

“And as time has gone on, more and more people have come to realise that they would rather Remain.”

A police officer approached the protesters to politely ask them to move on.

He asked the crowd which side of the debate they were on.

“We want to stay in the EU,” they told him.

“Good,” he replied, sticking two thumbs up and grinning.

The protesters returned after their own lunches and made voices known to the PM, largely drowning out questions from the press.

Mr Johnson hastily left in a car without giving any answers.

PA

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph