“Firstly, we most profoundly regret but we still respect the decision of the British people. Today is a sad day, it is a bad day for Europe but Europe simply has to move forward,” Santos Silva told Lusa News Agency.

The Foreign Minister added that Portugal had a “very strong” community in the country and reiterated that “the interests of the community will be protected and defended by the Portuguese authorities.”

In turn, Vitalino Canas, a members of the ruling minority Socialist Party, said that his party was not satisfied with the referendum but that the European project would move on.

“From the outset, the Socialist Party expressed its desire that the United Kingdom remains in the European Union. With that not happening, we are not satisfied” said Canas before saying that the European Union “might yet be consolidated in the future if we know how to appropriately interpret some of the things that are happening now.”

Canas both called for avoiding any rush to reach hasty, definitive judgements and for speed in the negotiations under EU article 50 over the United Kingdom’s departure.

“This phase of negotiation should, in my opinion, take as little time as possible. It matters to Europe and the United Kingdom that there is clarity in its relations and the parties will seek, to the extent such is possible, to protect their interests,” the MP explained.

Pointing to how the United Kingdom had always been reticent about more pro-integrated European measures and had refused to sign up to the Schengen agreement, for example, Canas said that negotiations would take place at the European Union level as well as bilaterally before adding that for Portuguese citizens living in the UK the result only meant “uncertainty and concern.”