“Magnificent news”. This is the way President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has welcomed the fact that leaders of Europe’s 27 Member States have all given their backing to the revised Withdrawal Agreement – presented in Brussels today – ushering in Brexit.
“Now we simply have to hope that the British parliament approves” what is currently just “an agreement in principle”, says Marcelo, so that it can become “definitive” before the October 31 deadline.
Said Portugal’s head of state, speaking in Lisbon this afternoon, the deal’s ratification by the House of Commons on Saturday “would be enormous news for Europe and enormous news for the United Kingdom” in that it would avoid “that which would be a very serious situation: an exit without a deal”.
Approval by British MPs would also “show the willingness to work, with the European Union, towards an understanding, thinking of millions and millions of citizens”, he added.
The revised deal was welcomed by Portuguese prime minister António Costa early this morning, with him saying the equivalent of “let’s hope that fourth time round, this gets through”.
Mr Costa was referring to the recent parliamentary debacles in London, where MPs stolidly refused to accept previous texts presented by former Conservative prime minister Theresa May.
The feeling today is that Jean-Claude Juncker has most certainly closed the door on any further ideas of asking for an extension, though the Financial Times has stressed that EU leaders have been careful not to take any position on whether or not an extension could be granted if the deal fails to satisfy the British parliament.
As the saying goes, it’s not over yet…