Starting yesterday afternoon, we have heard reports of a draft text of a British withdrawal treaty. There have been rumours, counter-rumours, statements of support and the usual statements of defiance even though the document has yet to be published. I gather the document extends to over 400 pages. We appreciate on this side of the House that it is necessary to give the UK Cabinet space this afternoon to consider the document and the findings it contains. Given in particular the Taoiseach's new-found interest in dedramatising the relationship between Ireland and the UK, we understand he is possibly constrained in what he can say. However, he should be very clear that my party considers this document to be as important for the island of Ireland as it is for the United Kingdom and the European Union and expects the Oireachtas to be given the same opportunity as the Parliaments in both of those jurisdictions to discuss and scrutinise the agreement when it is fully available. This document is a seminal one in the history of the island and the Oireachtas should have the power and capacity to scrutinise it on that basis. We need to scrutinise it because it affects not only economic issues but almost every aspect of day-to-day life on this island. It is not only about the backstop for Northern Ireland and the United Kingdom, but about trade, economic, social and civic issues also.
Every Member of the House wants a deal and it is in the interests of the island of Ireland, the United Kingdom and the European Union to get one. Every business owner, farmer and worker looking at us today wants a deal which protects trade and our relationships on an east-west and North-South basis. Nobody wants a border between the North and the South, not even the DUP, and nobody wants a no-deal Brexit scenario. While I appreciate that the Taoiseach cannot speculate on the detail of the draft, I ask him to comment on a number of principles. Can he confirm that the Good Friday Agreement as it stands will not be impacted negatively if the draft withdrawal agreement is ratified? In the case that there is a further extended transition period after the formal withdrawal period concludes, the UK will continue to be a full member of the EU for the next two years. What are the principles which will guide the relationship after that? When will a copy of the draft withdrawal treaty be made available to Members of the House on all sides to allow us to scrutinise it and begin the process of debating an agreement which is so important for Ireland?