If the UK government thought that Portugal would be keen to negotiate a soft deal for British interests and British citizens living in the republic, Prime Minister Carlos Costa has made clear that his allegiance is to Brussels and his EU partners, not to ‘break-away Britain.’
Costa said yesterday that nothing but a ‘divine light’ would be able to reconcile the divergent positions of the European Union and the United Kingdom, repeating that the Brexit agreement is the only one that exists and that it is not up for renegotiation.
“The criticism that I have seen, which also are contradictory to the treaty, are points that can no longer be renegotiated unless there is a divine light that shows something that no one has yet discovered,” argued the Portuguese PM, echoing the views of his EU colleagues.
António Costa said that the UK’s exit agreement, approved by the 27 EU member states on November 25, “is the agreement that exists, there is no other.”
On Monday, the British Prime Minister decided to postpone a Commons vote on the Brexit agreement as it would certainly would have been kicked out.
May then went to Brussels on Tuesday to discuss ways of obtaining, “additional guarantees” on the terms of the safeguard mechanism for Ireland’s border, rejected by Ireland, France, Sweden, Spain and Belgium despite some soothing voices from germany.
On Wednesday evening, Theresa May kept her job, winning a vote of confidence from her party MPs. On Thursday, she went back to Brussels and was faced with the same attitude as before.
The Portuguese prime minister commented, “As you know, Portugal has always been in the forefront of those who understand that we do not have to have a punitive position in relation to the United Kingdom, on the contrary.”
The EC president, Jean-Claude Juncker, suggested it was difficult to imagine any deal getting through the UK parliament at the moment, and that it really was not up to the European Union to satisfy the demands of rebellious Conservative MPs.
Juncker commented, “Our UK friends need to say what they want, rather than asking what we want. We would like in a few weeks for our UK friends to set out their expectations because this debate is sometimes nebulous and imprecise and I would like clarifications.”
Costa recalled that European leaders have been always been available to help, from the days of David Cameron’s premiership through to swallowing the shock Brexit ‘leave’ result, “we scrupulously respected the sovereign will of the British people not to remain. We have had a long negotiation with Mrs May, it was a very difficult work, the result is 585 pages of treaty, we have reached an agreement with which Mrs May felt perfectly satisfied.”
Costa was with the other European leaders yesterday and today, Friday 14th December, at the last European Council meeting of 2019 at which Brexit was discussed.