Brexit: Brits in Portugal “will not be inconvenienced,” says Portugal’s PM
“At the next Council of Ministers meeting, on Thursday, we will approve a contingency plan to ensure that all British residents in Portugal will be assured of peace, tranquility and security and will not be inconvenienced,” said Portugal’s prime minister, adding that the rights of Portuguese residents in the UK will be respected.
António Costa lamented the rejection by the British parliament of the UK’s exit agreement from the European Union and said he hoped that the British government quickly would inform him of its next steps to avoid an uncontrolled exit on March 29th.
António Costa said that negotiations with the London executive had lasted two and a half years and had reached an agreement that, “satisfied 27 Member States of the European Union and the British Government.”
“In the British parliament there was no majority in favour of the agreement, but no alternative proposal came up,” he said.
Costa was speaking to journalists shortly after the news hit international headlines that British MPs had rejected the UK’s exit agreement negotiated by Theresa May’s government. The catastrophic result loss on Tuesday evening showed over 100 Tory MPs voting against the government, with 432 MPs votes against and only 202 in favour.
Portugal’s PM commented, “I regret that it was not possible to approve the long-negotiated agreement between the European Union and the British Government, because it was a good agreement, since it corresponded to the needs of British citizens in the European Union and citizens of the Union residing in the United Kingdom. The agreement provided a good basis for a transition to a UK exit, which the European Union does not want but respects, allowing time for a calm and quiet negotiation on the future relationship which we all wish to be as close as possible.”
Following the rejection of May’s agreement, the leader of the Portuguese government said he now expects the United Kingdom, “to inform the European Union quickly of what it intends to do in the next steps, because there is something essential to avoid: being out of control.”
An uncontrolled exit by the UK, “compels all governments to adopt contingency plans,” and, according to António Costa, it is necessary to prepare for, “the possibility of not having any agreement until 23:00 on March 29, which implies taking transitional measures to ensure that the regular operation of commercial transactions or air traffic between countries.”
“We need to have this contingency plan in place, but what we want is for the UK to be able to inform the European Union about the path it intends to take. It is easy to say no to that agreement but we need to know what the other agreement is, because no other agreement with the European Union is yet on offer,” warned Costa.
Speaking to the journalists in Lisbon, António Costa also noted that, in the “Brexit” issue, the attitude “has always been to believe that the worst won’t happen,” but the situation, said the PM, is particularly worrying because the UK remains at the easiest phase of the Brexit negotiations: the agreement that the UK is leaving.
“The next phase is very difficult: to choose the model for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom. It is crucial that the UK understands that it would be very bad for everyone if there were to be an uncontrolled breakdown on 29 March. You have to tell the European Union what you want to do,” concluded Portugal’s PM.