This week, Boris pulls a runner, British democracy makes MEPs shudder, and commissioner hearings may be set for a stunner.
This episode is sponsored by PostEurop, hear more about them at the end.
[To start off with] Twitter couldn’t get enough of the bizarre spectacle that played out in Luxembourg following Boris Johnson’s Brexit meeting with President Juncker and Luxembourgish Prime Minister Xavier Bettel.
Protesters greeted Johnson as he arrived, prompting reporter Nick Guttridge to already ask how on earth the planned press conference was going happen.
Boris Johnson turns up to meet Xavier Bettel to a very loud chorus of boos from the anti-Brexit protest just outside. pic.twitter.com/P0qJpeaCm8
— Nick Gutteridge (@nick_gutteridge) September 16, 2019
When it came time for it, Johnson refused to take part, prompting The Times’s Bruno Waterfield to ask him, “are you running away prime minister?”
Are you running away prime minister? pic.twitter.com/wyC7rNCmnH
— Bruno Waterfield (@BrunoBrussels) September 16, 2019
In the end, Bettel held the press conference anyway, with an empty podium next to him where Boris was meant to be.
One day the PM of mighty Britain is The Hulk. The next day he's 'humiliated' by the leader of Luxembourg because he can't handle a few dozen protestors: https://t.co/PUKQ8ttURW
— Gareth Harding (@garethharding) September 16, 2019
Given that Johnson had just days earlier compared himself to the Incredible Hulk, his running away prompted endless ridicule on the interwebs.
HULK SORRY FOR BEING LATE, HAD TO SMASH WINE WITH JEAN-CLAUDE pic.twitter.com/DaMTJzKDJf
— General Boles (@GeneralBoles) September 16, 2019
MLEX’s Lewis Crofts added the Luxembourgish prime minister to the list of villains who have defeated the Hulk.
Quick recap of all the characters who have ever defeated The Hulk. Includes: Doctor Octopus, Princess Python, Goldbug, The Mandarin and the Prime Minister of Luxembourg https://t.co/uALPDCPsOE @Xavier_Bettel
— Lewis Crofts (@lewis_crofts) September 16, 2019
While Guy Verhofstadt said that instead of the Hulk, Johnson should try channeling Mrs Doubtfire.
People who have lived for over a decade in the UK are being turned down for ‘settled status’. This is unacceptable! We demand that the UK gov’t safeguards the citizens’ rights. Instead of playing the angry Hulk, Mr. Johnson should be inspired by the caring nanny, Mrs. Doubtfire pic.twitter.com/klmACzzzCT
— Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt) September 18, 2019
Even the actor who played the Hulk weighed in, noting he’s best when he’s in a team, and a disaster when he’s alone.
Boris Johnson forgets that the Hulk only fights for the good of the whole. Mad and strong can also be dense and destructive. The Hulk works best when he is in unison with a team, and is a disaster when he is alone. Plus…he’s always got Dr. Banner with science and reason. pic.twitter.com/jN8BDzgpWl
— Mark Ruffalo (@MarkRuffalo) September 15, 2019
On Wednesday in Strasbourg, a Brexit debate turned into a pissing contest between the European Union and the United Kingdom about who is the more undemocratic these days.
Jean-Claude Juncker opened the debate by taking a swipe at Johnson’s order shutting down parliament for two weeks, allegedly to avoid Brexit scrutiny.
— Mina Andreeva (@Mina_Andreeva) September 18, 2019
When one Brexit MEP posted a video about not being able to speak, parody account Martini Seltzermayer sympathetically suggested she urgently table a question on it in the House of Commons – which is currently closed.
Shameful – Suggest you get an immediate urgent question tabled about it in the @HouseofCommons
Oh wait https://t.co/yfY2sijqUD
— Martini Seltzermayr (@mseltzermayr) September 17, 2019
Telegraph reporter James Crisp said it was “surreal” to hear EU politicians criticising the UK for being undemocratic.
So basically Jean-Claude Juncker, Guy Verhofstadt and other senior MEPs have criticised Britain for being anti-democratic.
Brexit is surreal, innit?
— James Crisp (@JamesCrisp6) September 18, 2019
But considering we’re talking about a country with an unelected monarch and upper house of Parliament, I’m not sure how “surreal” it is really.
Meanwhile eyes are turning to the Parliament’s confirmation hearings for Ursula Von Der Leyen’s nominated commissioners.
The Parliament always likes to reject at least one nominee to flex its muscles, but given the humiliation it suffered in July over the spitzenkandidat fiasco, this time it may want to reject two or even three.
The EPP made it clear who it has in the crosshairs by releasing demands clearly targeting France’s Sylvie Goulard and Belgium’s Didier Reynders, as Euractiv’s Sam Morgan pointed out.
So overt it’s covert
EPP may as well write “Sylvie Goulard” and “Didier Reynders” in foot-high letters
Looks like a free-for-all is looming at the Commissioner hearings https://t.co/hyyJeUpP9f
— Sam Morgan (@SamJamesMorgan) September 18, 2019
Euractiv’s polling has Hungary’s László Trócsányi as the most likely to be rejected because of his part in implementing Hungary’s dismantling of rule of law institutions. Poland’s Janusz Wojciechowski could be in trouble for the same reasons.
Looks to be a clear winner so far in the ‘which Commissioner will be axed by MEPs’ poll. Get voting, we’ll share results before hearings start https://t.co/1il8RWSvmH
— Sam Morgan (@SamJamesMorgan) September 18, 2019
And Margaritas Schinas, the former Commission spokesman now nominated to be the Vice President For Protecting Our European Way of Life”, will be rejected by Renew Europe unless his title is changed, according to French MEP Pascal Canfin.
Le groupe @RenewEurope votera contre le Vice President de la commission européenne en charge de la Protection du mode de vie européen si le nom du portefeuille de change pas ou si les attributions ne sont pas modifiées @Renaissance_UE
— Pascal Canfin (@pcanfin) September 18, 2019
We did get some indications this week that Von der Leyen will comply, prompting Berlaymonster to helpfully suggest these alternative titles for Schinas.
Vice President for Citizenshipness and Equalitude
Vice President for Europeanity
Vice President for Sustainabilitiness in an Economy of Peoples
Vice President for Keeping It White.
— Berlaymonster (@Berlaymonster) September 10, 2019
This week we’re supported by PostEurope, the association public postal operators. To find out more about their priorities for the Von Der Leyen Commission, check out their manifesto.
The Posts are TRUSTed across Europe’s rural, suburban and urban areas.
We play an important role in facilitating the #EUsinglemarket.
— PostEurop (@PostEurop) September 18, 2019
That’s it for this week, join us next Friday when Jen will be back for more wheeling, dealing, ducking and diving in the Brussels Bubble Twittersphere.