Wow. Bad optics, the ‘Hulk‘ being scared of his own protesting citizens and skipping his press conference. An empty lectern in front of the UK flag.

Just weeks in, Johnson has his Salzburg moment already it appears. It isn’t so much humiliation, although it will be seen that way in the UK. The accompanying statements of the Luxembourg PM are largely similar to what happened in Salzburg: the UK internal political debate and resulting ‘plans’ meeting the reality of the EU27 who feel the need to bluntly spell out what over multiple years apparently hasn’t registered when said in diplomatic language. As much as it makes my lower instincts chuckle, being ’empty chaired’ in Luxembourg will not help to bring anyone in the UK closer to compromise though, on the contrary. Nor bring the UK and EU closer to finalising the withdrawal agreement. Although it would help if the UK government actually had a proposal in writing in the first place.

So if anything it increases the probability of a no-deal Brexit. Meaning the UK and EU will return to the exact same issues on November 1st, but then with the UK having gaping holes in its regulatory framework and economy and an urgent need to fix things. Far from ‘getting it done’ on October 31st, it will then drag on for a decade or so, with all the risks that brings to the European project itself (not economically, but having Brexit high on the agenda is a drag on many more pressing topics).

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