Britain is due to leave the European Union on March 29 but Parliament’s rejection this week of Prime Minister Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement with Brussels has thrown those plans into chaos and opened up a range of outcomes, from quitting with no agreement on future relations to halting Brexit altogether.
“At this moment we do not even know what the United Kingdom wants,” Siza Vieira told Reuters in an interview late on Wednesday.
“In the absence of an alternative proposal by the United Kingdom what every (EU) member state is doing is adopting measures that allow them to react to a unilateral circumstance.”
Even without a Brexit deal, British citizens living in Portugal would retain rights including access to healthcare. “We are ready to do this unilaterally,” he said, adding that he hopes Britain will do the same for Portuguese.
Britons are the biggest group of tourists to Portugal but their numbers have dipped recently as the pound has fallen against the euro on Brexit concerns. Portugal will launch a promotional campaign in Britain in an attempt to offset this, the minister said.
Portugal and Britain are the world’s oldest allies, forged through a 1386 treaty.
A tourist boom has boosted Portugal’s economy after its 2010-14 debt crisis and the minister predicted tourist numbers would continue to rise, albeit at a slower pace.
“We … assume that tourism will continue to grow, though probably not at the same rate as in recent years — Portugal was one of the tourist destinations that grew the most in recent years,” Siza Vieira said.
A record 13 million tourists arrived last year.Theresa May’s government wins no confidence vote
Siza Vieira said he expected further expansion in investment, a motor for growth in recent years, including attracting companies from third countries which might previously have considered Britain as an EU centre.
“We are seeing growth in investment with European origin, but also American and from various parts of Asia,” he said.
State-owned China Three Gorges is bidding for utility EDP, Portugal’s biggest company by assets, while other Chinese firms have bought large stakes in electricity grid REN, insurer Fidelidade and bank Millennium bcp.
Reporting by Axel Bugge and Sergio Goncalves; Editing by Catherine Evans
|AIWA! NO!|The former Foreign Secretary’s bid comes just ahead of the crunch vote on Theresa May’s Brexitdeal in parliament, which is widely expected to be voted down by a huge margin, putting her under pressure to resign.
Mr Johnson blasted failures in Mrs May’s government, speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, slamming her Brexit plan for leaving the UK “a diabolical negotiating position” and giving the EU the chance to “blackmail” Britain.
Setting out his alternative vision, he said the UK should not pay the promised £39 billion divorce bill to Brussels until the UK is allowed out of the backstop and a future trade deal is agreed.
EU citizens will NOT get preferential treatment after Brexit, says Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbott. Non-EU citizens, including those from Commonwealth nations, are treated as “second-class migrants” under the current system. She said: “Once trade deals have been struck and established there will be no unequal treatment based on which countries people are coming from.
British PM May says EU and non-EU nationals will have the same immigration rights after Brexit
AIWA! NO! //EU and non-EU citizens, including those from India and Australia, could have the same immigration rights after Brexit, British Prime Minister Theresa May indicated on Monday.
Asked whether the EU would get a preferential deal on immigration rights that would mean they would continue to be able to travel to the U.K. more easily, the Prime Minister told BBC Radio 4 in an interview that one of the messages from the referendum was that people “didn’t want a situation where they could see people coming having those automatic rights to travel to the U.K. and a set of rules for people outside the EU…”
“What we will be doing is putting forward a set of rules for people from the European Union and people from outside the EU.”
The issue of preferential rights for EU citizens has been a controversial issue throughout the referendum campaign and afterwards. During the referendum campaign, some politicians courted voters from the South Asian diaspora with promises that Brexit — by enabling Britain to restrict the rights of EU citizens to travel to the U.K. — could provide the government with the capacity to ease rules for those from non-EU countries.
Level playing field
Until recently, the Prime Minister had appeared to keep the possibility for preferential rights for EU citizens open. “We will decide who will come into this country,” she said on Monday.
In a recent interview with Sky News, International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said it was not a question of increasing immigration for non-EU citizens but to ensure that a “level playing field” was created to ensure that non-EU citizens would have a “better chance of getting access” to the U.K. within the government’s immigration targets.
The Prime Minister has faced growing pressure over her Brexit plan — which has come to be dubbed as the “Chequers Plan” (after the location at which it was forged) that would result in Britain maintaining a common rulebook for goods, including agricultural products, with the EU after Brexit. However, the plan faced criticism from within her own party, and triggered the resignation of Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who recently referred to her plans as a “suicide vest”.
The Prime Minister’s language had to be seen as nothing but rhetoric, says Lord Karan Bilimoria, a cross-bench member of the House of Lords, and a vocal critic of the government’s Brexit strategy, who is part of the growing push for putting the terms of the government’s Brexit deal to the British people in a second referendum.
He argues that the government will have little choice but to maintain preferential access for EU citizens, given the practical needs of the U.K. economy, while at the same time making concessions that would open up immigration policy to non-EU countries. “This has to be seen in the same light as the Ms. May’s wider approach to Brexit, and the so-called three lines she set, which are now looking decidedly faded pink.”