I raise with the Taoiseach the issue of the British Government's clear intention to renege on the Irish protocol. As the Taoiseach will know, the protocol was secured after a very long negotiation. It represents the bare minimum required to protect Irish interests. It is essential to protect our economy, to ensure no hardening of the Border on our island and to ensure our peace agreements are protected. As the Taoiseach will also know, it is binding under international law.
Today, legislation will be published. The British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland has made very clear that this legislation will breach international law. In other words, the British system is now breaching international law with its eyes wide open and is making no secret of that fact. It is interesting and should be noted that the secretary of state has managed to speak out of both sides of his mouth on this issue. On Monday evening, he met with my colleague, Ms Michelle O'Neill, the joint Head of Government in the North, and sought to assure her that the legislation would in no way interfere with the protocol. He then took to his feet on Tuesday and said the precise opposite. As the Taoiseach knows, he has conceded that the British Government will in fact act to breach international law.
All of this demonstrates how far Mr. Boris Johnson's government is prepared to go to satisfy his Tory Brexiteers and, frankly, his own blunt English nationalism. It should be recorded that the British Prime Minister was the champion of Brexit. The Taoiseach may also recall that he was also an advocate of a no-deal proposition. He had to be dragged to any meaningful negotiation by his own parliament. In the past, I have described his approach and position as stupid and dangerous. I reiterate that today; the position of Mr. Johnson and his government is both stupid and dangerous. It is very clear that perfidious Albion is alive and well and living at No. 10 Downing Street.
The British Prime Minister believes that it will either be his way or no way. He mistakenly believes he can now pressure or bully Ireland. It needs to be made very clear to him that is not going to happen. I take some heart from the international reaction, not least from the statements of Congressman Richard Neal, chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means, and others.
This story broke on Sunday night; it is now Wednesday. I am alarmed that it has taken this long for the Taoiseach to indicate that he will intervene with the British Prime Minister. I appreciate and understand the value of diplomatic back channels but, in this instance, it falls to the Taoiseach, as Head of Government, to defend and represent Irish interests. When he takes the phone call with the British Prime Minister - I assume the call will be made today but the Taoiseach might clarify that - will he make it absolutely clear that there can and will be no reneging on the Irish protocol and no return to a hard border on our Ireland and that the Good Friday Agreement will be upheld in all of its parts?