The most extraordinary aspect of today’s extraordinary referendum result coming out of the UK is that at close of media business last night everything pointed to a victory for the Remain campaign.
As Expresso, Correio da Manhã and other dailies point out, journalists all went to bed in the early hours of this morning thinking tomorrow there would still be 28 member states.
It wasn’t until nearer 5am that the real result dawned, waking up national commentators and forcing them to rethink all the opening paragraphs that they had prepared.
Expresso’s executive director Martim Silva has likened the historic vote to the fall of the Berlin Wall, saying much as anyone can that Europe will be forever marked by the events coming out of June 23.
But this morning, as Portugal woke up to another beautiful sunny day, response from the country’s leaders was absent – very possibly because the president of the republic and prime minister António Costa had been ‘living it up’ in street celebrations for the “Noite de São João” in Porto until the early hours, both of them having said they were optimistic that Britain would vote to Remain.
It was left to Augusto Santos Silva, foreign affairs minister, to describe the outcome as “a sad day” – stressing nonetheless that the interests of Portuguese resident in the UK would be “protected and defended”.
“First, we profoundly lament the decision of the British people”, he said. “But we respect it. This is a sad day, a bad day for Europe, but Europe has to move forwards”.
The next steps will be a meeting of the now 27-member states next week to discuss the consequences and prepare a roadmap for future negotiations.
“EARTHQUAKE ON EUROPEAN STOCK EXCHANGES”
Lisbon’s Euronext opened this morning “to follow the earthquake ongoing in the rest of Europe, with losses of 10%”, reports Económico.
The PSI-20 began by dropping 5.6% while EDP, EDP Renováveis, Galp, BCP, BPI, CTT and commercial groups Jerónimo Martins and Sonae all posted ‘historic’ losses, while RTP talked of a “nightmare” scenario, both for the UK and the EU.
The process of invoking Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty will take “at least two years”, possibly longer, Mónico Ferro, international political analyst told the station – and Europe is faced with redrawing its budget now that one of the largest contributors is stepping out.
So great is the confusion however that even media entities like the FT are holding back on reports until more analysis.
The FT’s Facebook page says “Tune in at 11am UK time for a Facebook live session with our markets editor Mike Mackenzie on markets turmoil. Please post any questions in advance below”.
It is an indication of how rapidly this story is developing, and how much social media has ‘taken over’ when it comes to grassroots reporting.
More to follow, but as we wrote this article, the £, which had been ‘plummeting’ to quote news sources, was starting to recover.