Boris Johnson’s treatment at the hands of Luxembourg’s prime minister is a reminder of why the UK wants to leave the European Union, Donald Trump’s ambassador in London is reported to have said.
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.
He added: “We stand with the people of the UK and we always will.”
The ambassador’s reported comments came after Luxembourg’s PM Xavier Bettel was accused of “disrespecting” Britain after he tried to force Mr Johnson to hold a news conference in a street full of anti-Brexit protesters, prompting the prime minister to pull out.
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.”
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.”
Mr Bettel’s “empty chairing” of Mr Johnson was also criticised by Norbert Röttgen, an ally of German chancellor Angela Merkel, and chairman of the German foreign affairs committee.
He 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.”