Yesterday's drama in London, with the resignation of two senior Cabinet Ministers from the UK Government, should not distract from the key message that has emanated from, as well as the key importance of, the UK Government's Chequers statement on the evolution of negotiations on the UK-EU relationship and Brexit. In essence, the Chequers statement represents a pathway and a platform on which serious negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union to determine their future relationship can progress. The resignations of David Davis, MP, and Boris Johnson, MP, confirm this reality. The Chequers statement is much more in line with the economic reality from the perspective of the United Kingdom and reveals a new Brexit realism that rendered it impossible for the hardl-ine Brexiteers to continue in office. Hard-line Brexiteers such as Boris Johnson and David Davis never produced a blueprint and a coherent alternative. The outgoing Foreign Secretary said it was the beginning of the end of the dream. However, dreams rarely correspond with reality. Credit should be given to the British Prime Minister for navigating this new direction in very difficult political circumstances, as we all know.
I have been very critical of the Brexit decision, but the British people took that decision. I was particularly critical of the absence of any coherent blueprint to be put before the electorate in advance. It was fuelled by certain racist tendencies, anti-immigration sentiment and so on. That said, as a country, we export hugely to the United Kingdom. The studies undertaken in Ireland, including the Economic and Social Research Institute's study and those conducted by the Department of Finance, have predicted negative outcomes, depending on the nature of Brexit, for the small and medium enterprise sector. That is particularly the case for the agrifood sector and the Border, west and north-west regions which will be very badly hit by a hard Brexit. We must avoid any such outcome.
We are still facing into very difficult negotiations. Time is short and politics in the United Kingdom are very volatile. Clearly, the negotiations between the UK and EU will be particularly difficult and complex. As a country, we must maintain a key focus on what is optimal for the entire island of Ireland while preserving the integrity of the European Union and its mission and rules. Does the Taoiseach accept that a positive UK-EU agreement on their future relationship is the optimal outcome for Ireland? In light of this country's significant market presence in the United Kingdom, particularly in the agrifood and SME sectors, does he accept that the east-west relationship between the UK and Ireland is critical to the island's economic growth and well-being? Does he accept that the Chequers statement from the UK Government represents a credible basis for the progression of the next phase of EU-UK negotiations on Brexit?