President Marcelo is in Athens today for a meeting of European heads of State to discuss Brexit. He vows Europe’s doors will remain open (for a deal) “until the last moment”.
In the nail-biting run-up to next week’s European Council – where British PM Boris Johnson is expected to present a workable solution – soundbites are literally changing by the minute.
On the site of the UK Independent, earlier this morning the message was that Mr Johnson’s proposal “was still not workable or realistic after hours of talks”.
Minutes later, European Commission president Donald Tusk tweeted that he had “received positive signals that a Brexit deal is possible”.
As so many pundits predicted months ago, a break from the deadlock could literally come at at the tail-end of the 11th hour.
Certainly, President Marcelo has been assuring journalists that EU leaders are intent on showing “flexibility in terms of time for this deal”.
Say reports, he has also been stressing the work Portugal has been doing in bilateral terms to guarantee the situation of Portuguese in the UK, and Britons in Portugal.
“Everything is being explored”, he said as he was entering last night’s banquet in the Museum of the Acropolis, offered by Greece’s President Prokopios Pavlopoulos.
The meeting of the so-called Arraiolos Group – because the first such meeting was in Arraiolos (the Alentejan town famed for its colourful rugs and carpets) – will see Marcelo catching up with Ireland’s president Michael D. Higgins. It’s a meeting Portugal’s head of State had been keenly anticipating as “Ireland is always in our thoughts, and everything is being done at this time to reach an agreement”.
Brexit however isn’t the only issue on the agenda. The meeting is expected to debate the refugee ‘crisis’, economic problems generally – and the current challenges faced by the United Nations (which is apparently running out of money and can’t guarantee staff salaries to the end of the year).
Meantime, Marcelo has been creating further soundbites, suggesting he may not run for a second term if health issues get in the way.
He has told SIC television, “in a few weeks time I will have to do a (heart) catheterisation” (a procedure used to diagnose and treat certain cardiovascular conditions).
As reports love to stress, Marcelo is something of a hypochondriac, but as there is a history of heart problems in his family, this one procedure is very possibly opportune, particularly for a president who always wants ‘to be out there’ among the people, not shut up in the palace of Belém.