BORIS Johnson refused to attend a press conference in Luxembourg after the host chose to hold it near a gang of anti-Brexit protesters.
Xavier Bettel, the Prime Minister of Luxembourg, milked the whooping cheers and applause as the PM refused to attend the conference, but what is ’empty-chairing’ and why did Boris skip the meeting?
What is ’empty-chairing’?
‘Empty-chairing’ is a technique used in debates to draw attention to a politician’s absence.
When a politician refuses to show up, like Boris did in Luxembourg, an empty chair is left where he or she ought to be sitting.
The aim of ’empty-chairing’ is to embarrass ministers for not showing up – like Mr Bettel did as he was forced to point at an empty podium in Boris’ absence.
Politicians have been ’empty- chair’ debating since the early 20th century to ridicule their opponents for failing to show up to important debates and meetings.
Why did Boris skip the press conference in Luxembourg?
Boris Johnson was set to attend the press conference in Luxembourg with Mr Bettel.
However, the EU boss chose to hold their conference near anti-Brexit protesters, even after the PM asked to have it moved.
The pro-Remain mob were protesting outside – which was where the press conference was set to be held.
No10 said the PM’s aides asked to move the press conference away from the baying crowd – described as a “large Remain gathering” – but the request was denied by their hosts.
As a result, the decision was made that Boris would miss the conference with Mr Bettel, who was left on his podium unopposed.
A Downing Street source said: “We repeatedly asked for it to be moved into the press centre but they refused and said it needed to be outside – by the loud protesters.
“We took a decision to take a media engagement at the residence instead.”
The sourced added: “We went to Luxembourg to see Juncker, not him.”
Luxembourg PM Mr Bettel blasted the British people for backing Brexit and said it was a “nightmare” during a long rant – before arrogantly claiming: “this wouldn’t happen in Luxembourg”.
Seemingly agitated by the PM’s no-show he ranted: “our citizens want to have a certainty.”
The Luxembourg premier also told reporters: “Don’t put the blame on us because they don’t know how to get out of this situation. It is not my choice.”
He then used the no-show against the PM by ’empty-chairing’ him, using the whooping cheers from the anti-Brexit crowd in his favour.
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Boris later claimed that he walked away from the press conference because didn’t think it would be “fair” to Mr Bettel.
He added: “There was clearly going to be a lot of noise and I think our points would have been drowned out.”
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