PM Costa contacted by UK’s May to press need for changes in Brexit deal

  • Lusa
  • 15 February 2019

Theresa May, the Prime Minister of the UK, contacted her Portuguese counterpart in order to convince him to back her quest for changes to the Brexit agreement signed with the EU.

The UK prime minister, Theresa May, has spoken on the phone with Portugal’s premier, António Costa, to try to convince him of the need for changes to the Brexit agreement she reached with the European Union, a spokesman said.

The conversation on Thursday with Costa is part of a series of calls made by May with EU member states’ leaders on the subject of the terms of the UK’s departure from the EU, a spokesman for May told Lusa.

In recent days, she has also called France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, and Austria’s chancellor, Sebastian Kurz, and received the prime minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat, at her official residence in 10 Downing Street.

According to the spokesman, May spoke of her government’s commitment to compromise and presented the situation in the UK parliament, where there is broad support for the agreement, but binding legal changes are needed to get it through.

The Brexit process is at a standstill, after the exit agreement negotiated with EU officials was rejected in the UK parliament by a margin of 230 votes.

A majority of members of parliament on 29 January approved a proposal to negotiate alternatives to the backstop that is in the agreement to guarantee that there will be no physical frontier between Northern Ireland and the Republic, as a condition of its approval.

The backstop is to be activated if, after the transitional period to 2020, no new agreement is concluded, so that the UK would remain in the EU customs union and Northern Ireland would be subject to the rules of the single market.

May last week met the presidents of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, of the European Parliament, Antonio Tajani, and of the European Council, Donald Tusk, and travelled to Dublin to meet with Ireland’s prime minister, Leo Varadkar.

EU leaders have so far not been ready to renegotiate the exit deal, but May and Juncker have agreed to meet again at the end of the month on a date yet to be defined.

The UK is scheduled to leave the EU for 29 March, the end of the two-year period laid down in Article 50 of the EU treaty on negotiations for a member’s departure.