Brexit won’t affect Portugal-UK relations, says President Marcelo

Portugal’s president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has said the UK’s departure from the European Union will not affect bilateral relations with Portugal following a meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May at 10 Downing Street.

“The world changes, Europe changes, but the bilateral relations between the UK and Portugal never change,” he told journalists yesterday (November 16) at the start of an official visit to the UK to discuss the impact of Brexit and meet with members of the Portuguese expat community as well as businesspeople and bankers.

Always the optimist, he said his meeting with May was “very positive”.

“We didn’t speak about concerns, we spoke about the future,” he said.

Marcelo guaranteed that Portugal will do “everything” to ensure that the UK’s departure from the EU goes smoothly, as both countries have been “friends for a long time”.

“And when nations have known each other for a long time, that makes their relationship easier,” he said.

When he was asked if he had an idea of “what kind of Brexit” Theresa May wanted to carry out, a “faster or more measured” Brexit, Marcelo answered: “I have an idea, but I won’t say.”

The meeting came on the same day that Brussels gave Portugal’s 2017 State Budget a thumbs up, and announced it would not be cutting the country’s EU funding (click here) – news that Marcelo said both he and May were “very happy” to hear.

“She was as happy as we were. It’s a sign of friendship,” he said.

May keeps Marcelo waiting

Though the meeting was hailed a success, it didn’t get off to the best start.

British tabloid The Sun reported on how “Portugal’s president was left waiting in his car outside No 10 after arriving too early for talks with Theresa May”.

It said that Marcelo arrived at Downing Street “three minutes ahead of schedule, and the Prime Minister was not yet ready to greet him”.

But as the tabloid later pointed out, “it didn’t appear to dampen the mood”.

Meantime, Marcelo is expected to meet Queen Elizabeth II today.

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