After Boris Johnson compared Brexit Britain to the Hulk at the weekend and then ducked out of a press conference with the Luxembourg PM Xavier Bettel on Monday, readers have their say
I confess that I voted for Boris Johnson in the Conservative leadership election because I was persuaded that he had the confidence that was entirely lacking from Theresa May. After his appalling performance skipping the Luxembourg press conference I am regretting my decision (Johnson left humiliated as Brexit visit ends in chaos, 17 September).
How did the prime minister think this would come across? Whether you are for remain or leave, no one can deny that Boris is intent on harming his own position. He could have made the protesters trying to drown out his speech into an important victory, an example of the Tory talking-point of how an arrogant noisy fringe of pro-Europe activists are suppressing democratic policy.
Instead, he only made a mockery of himself. If the leader of the British government can be so visibly intimidated by a tiny country with a population smaller than Leeds, it does not bode well for the state of our negotiations with wider Europe. It will also only make things harder for him in future. Now that it is clear that he is so easily rattled by a tough crowd, he has guaranteed that there will be hecklers at every public appearance he makes.
Theresa May was notorious for her awkward speeches and empty lecterns, but Boris Johnson’s abject humiliation was an exhibition of political incompetence worse than any of her podium gaffes.
Salford, Greater Manchester
• Having watched the whole of the press conference, I cannot see how you can justify your online headline saying Mr Johnson was “humiliated by Luxembourg PM”. Xavier Bettel didn’t organise the protests or force Mr Johnson to leave. What he himself then said in the solo press conference was measured and factual, albeit betraying clear frustration. You seem to be playing into Mr Johnson’s strategy of portraying himself as victim and the EU as responsible for the failure of any negotiations.
• Before the prime minister of Luxembourg is made into a liberal hero for embarrassing Boris Johnson, let’s remember that his country exists primarily by parasitism on other EU member states – undercutting their tax rates and diverting their tax revenues by allowing companies the legal fiction of charging for their services through Luxembourg. The British demonstrators who booed Johnson (normally a good thing) may well have included expats involved in this socially destructive legal/financial engineering. The fact that the former finance minister and later PM of Luxembourg has been president of the European commission for the last five years says a great deal about the neoliberalism of the EU.
• With apologies to Magritte, was Mr Bettel pointing at the empty lectern and saying: “Ceci n’est pas un PM”?
• When Johnson stoops to new lows of petty distraction, must the Guardian eagerly follow him down? The claim to be like the Hulk is met by two earnest articles showcasing a Hollywood actor who claims the opposite. Another article delights in finding the wittiest take. Is this the game? Are these the stakes? Is it too much to expect the Guardian to bring maturity, restraint and focus at a time when our leaders (appallingly, tragically, frighteningly) cannot?
• After Boris Johnson opted not to show up for Monday’s press conference, wouldn’t the Invisible Man be a more appropriate comparison than the Hulk?
Gordon Bennett, Shropshire
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