Ursula von der Leyen washes her hands of Portugal’s political crisis

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has dodged questions over the corruption scandal engulfing Portuguese politics.

When pressed on the crisis which has seen Portugal’s prime minister Antonio Costa resign, von der Leyen told reporters that now is the time for the “national authorities to investigate”.

‌The President of the European Commission refused to get drawn into the scandal acknowledging only that she was aware of the ongoing corruption probe through media coverage.

Ms Von der Leyen said simply: “We are following the news from Portugal and it is now up to the national authorities to investigate.”

It comes as Mr Costa decided to resign as Portugal’s Prime Minister hours after his chief of staff was arrested following police raids on several public buildings.

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Portugal’s prosecutor’s office has announced that the Supreme Court was investigating the “use of the prime minister’s name and his involvement” in the alleged criminality.

Also believed to have been arrested are the country’s minister of infrastructure, Joao Galamba, as well as the boss of the Portuguese environmental agency.

Announcing his resignation on TV, Mr Costa said: “Obviously, I have presented my resignation to the president of the republic.

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“I totally trust the justice system.”

Mr Costa denied being aware of any wrongdoing but acknowledged he was unable to continue to lead the Government while the subject of investigation.

He said: “I am not above the law and if Justice has any suspicions, it must be investigated.”

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