4th Feb 19
Effectively an insurance policy to keep the Irish border with the UK open, as it is now. This would be achieved by keeping the United Kingdom within the EU’s customs union on an ostensibly temporary basis.
Why is there a backstop?
Three of the government’s post-Brexit commitments conflict with each other.
- The UK is required by the Good Friday Agreement to keep the Irish border open.
- Theresa May set one of her Brexit red lines as leaving the EU’s customs and regulatory framework. Since the UK and Ireland will be in separate trade blocs, this would require border checks on imports and exports.
- The government and the Democratic Unionist Party do not want a border in the Irish Sea, as this would effectively leave Northern Ireland behind in the EU after Brexit.
What is the problem with the backstop?
It can only end by mutual agreement of the UK and EU. In theory this gives the EU a veto over the UK’s ability to ever leave its regulatory orbit.
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