Luxembourg has reminded Britain why it wants Brexit, says US ambassador

18 September 2019, 10:29 | Updated: 18 September 2019, 10:33

Woody Johnson, the US ambassador to the UK, said that having "built the greatest empire" and "held off the Nazis", the British "didn&squot;t need a lecture from anybody on how to run their country.
Woody Johnson, the US ambassador to the UK, said that having "built the greatest empire" and "held off the Nazis", the British "didn't need a lecture from anybody on how to run their country. Picture: PA
Sylvia De Luca

By Sylvia De Luca

Woody Johnson, the US ambassador to the UK, reportedly said the British "didn't need a lecture" from Luxembourg's prime minister on how to run their country.

Woody Johnson, the US ambassador to the UK, said that having "built the greatest empire" and "held off the Nazis", the British "didn't need a lecture from anybody on how to run their country... and that includes Brussels", according to The Daily Telegraph.

The ambassador's reported comments came after Luxembourg's PM Xavier Bettel was accused of "disrespecting" and deliberately embarrassing Britain after he tried to force Mr Johnson to hold a news conference in a street full of anti-Brexit protesters.

This prompted the prime minister to pull out. Mr Bettel then posed for cameras next to his empty podium.

Speaking at the Carlton Club in London, the US ambassador praised Mr Johnson's handling of the situation, insisting that "he knew he was walking into a trap", according to the Telegraph.

Woody Johnson reportedly said: "He knew this was a set-up. Of course he knew, but he's British. He said, 'What the hell. I can do this'.

"I thought the people in Luxembourg accomplished something that maybe even Boris couldn't accomplish: show this is not where (the British) want to be, over there, when they treat us like that - your prime minister."

Luxembourg's Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, right, addresses a media conference next to an empty lectern intended for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
Luxembourg's Prime Minister Xavier Bettel, right, addresses a media conference next to an empty lectern intended for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Picture: PA

Addressing a Conservative Foreign & Commonwealth Council lunch at the private members' club, the ambassador is reported to have said that while "some had cast doubt" on the British people's decision to leave the EU, "the US administration believes it's the start of a new golden era for the UK".

He said: "The people who built the greatest empire, the people who held off the Nazis, who contributed so much to the progress of mankind, you can go down a long list - they don't need a lecture from anybody on how to run their country, and that includes Brussels."

Meanwhile, Mr Bettel's "empty chairing" of Mr Johnson appeared to cause unease on Tuesday.

Norbert Rottgen, an ally of Angela Merkel, wrote on Twitter: "Xavier Bettel's speech yesterday did not serve the European cause. His public venting ignored that a deal is still in everyone's interest.

"Even without a deal there will be a post-Brexit life, which means that right now everyone needs to behave in a way that avoids animosity."

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