I am sure the Taoiseach will join with me in sending our sympathies to the Palestinian people on the loss of Saeb Erekat, secretary general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, who died this morning. He was a great advocate for peace, stability and a homeland for the Palestinian people. The world is a poorer place for the loss of him.
Joe Biden was elected as the next President of the United States on Saturday last. Mr. Biden's election is good for Ireland in many ways. He is, as we know, proud of his Irish roots and he is, without doubt, a long-standing friend of Ireland. During the presidential election campaign and throughout his time in office, he has acted to promote and protect peace, progress and the Good Friday Agreement. He comes to the office of President at a time of threat from the British Government, with both Brexit and the refusal to honour agreements looming large. The President-elect and both parties in Congress have made clear that there will be no trade agreement with Britain unless the Good Friday Agreement is safeguarded in all of its parts.
The election of Joe Biden has, I believe, the potential to reshape the nature of the Brexit negotiation, particularly with regard to the aggressive and arrogant approach taken by the Tory Government and Boris Johnson to Irish interests. Throughout this process, Tories have actively sought to undermine the Good Friday Agreement and, most recently, Mr. Johnson has played a reckless game by using as a bargaining chip the protection secured for Ireland as part of the withdrawal agreement. Central to this game-playing has been Mr. Johnson's dangerous Internal Market Bill. The latter undermines protections that are absolutely vital to ensuring there will be no reimposition of a hard border on our island, safeguarding the all-island economy and protecting the Good Friday Agreement and our hard-won peace. The recklessness of this Bill is such that even the House of Lords last night voted to strip out powers that would allow Tory Ministers to break international law.
Instead of preparing for an end to the transition period, Mr. Johnson used the smoke and mirrors of this Bill to sow confusion and mistrust in negotiations. Perhaps this was an effort to buy time to see where the chips landed in the US election. Now that election is over and in President-elect Biden, Ireland and the EU negotiating team have a very formidable ally, one who has already impressed upon the British Prime Minister that playing fast and loose with the future of this island simply will not be tolerated. It is time for Mr. Johnson to realise that the best way forward for all of us, including Britain, is to engage in what remains of negotiations in good faith, to respect international law and their agreements. A very necessary first step is that the British Government drop its dangerous internal market Bill.
Throughout the Brexit process, it has been critical to defending Ireland's interests that we have spoken as one. I believe this unified approach in the Dáil has yielded much success and I believe this is how we must proceed as we enter the Brexit endgame because the decisions made in the closing stages of negotiations will have ramifications for years, indeed, for generations, to come. I ask the Taoiseach, therefore, how he plans to work on a cross-party all-of-the-Oireachtas basis over these coming crucial weeks.