In a BBC exclusive, Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel said it was never his intention to humiliate Boris Johnson on Monday by holding a press conference without him.
Mr Bettel strongly denied his press conference next to an empty podium with a union flag behind it – was an ambush or planned in any way.
He said he suggested to his British counterpart that they start the press conference outside as planned because he had no room inside to accommodate all 140 accredited journalists.
When Mr Johnson decided to go to the British embassy to make his statement, Mr Bettel told the BBC’s Katya Adler he couldn’t follow him there.
He said he felt the media would have made too much of the sight of Luxembourg removing the union flag and Mr Johnson’s podium, so he went ahead and made the statements about the Brexit process he had always planned to make.
Luxembourg PM on news conference: ‘I did not want to humiliate’ Johnson