"I regret that it was not possible to approve the agreement, which was negotiated at length between the European Union and the British government", the PM said.
Portugal’s prime minister has expressed regret at the rejection by the UK parliament of a deal on the country’s departure from the European Union, saying that he hopes the UK authorities “quickly” announce their next steps to avoid a disorderly Brexit.
António Costa was speaking to reporters at a hotel in Lisbon on Tuesday night, shortly after the news came through that the parliament in London had rejected the exit deal negotiated with EU officials by the government of Theresa May, by 432 votes to 202.
“I regret that it was not possible to approve the agreement, which was negotiated at length between the European Union and the British government, because it was a good agreement, as it corresponded to the needs of British citizens in the European Union and of the citizens of the Union residing in the UK,” Costa said. “The agreement created good conditions for a transition to the departure of the United Kingdom, which the European Union does not wish, but respects, allowing time for a quiet and serene negotiation on the future relationship, which we all wish to be as close as possible.”
Now the deal has been rejected, Costa said he now expects that the UK “quickly inform the European Union of what it intends to do in the next steps, because there is something [that is] essential to avoid: an uncontrolled exit.”
Earlier, before the vote in the UK parliament, Portugal’s foreign minister had said that his country would support any request from the UK to extend the negotiations on Brexit, as well as a possible decision to reverse Brexit.
Augusto Santos Silva told deputies in Lisbon that Brexit was “bad news,” and that an exit without an agreement would be “catastrophic news.” If the UK asked for a deadline extension, he said, that would be unanimously welcomed by EU member states, including Portugal.
He added that if the UK decided to reverse Brexit, that would not cause “any problem for Portugal.”