The countdown for the Brexit deadline is fast approaching on 31st October 2020. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has promised to propose a plan to replace the backstop. Backstop is the biggest obstacle to ‘Brexit’.
What is Backstop?
The UK and EU have agreed that whatever be the result of Brexit, there will be no physical checks at the border that separates Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. ‘Backstop’ is a controversial matter of security, political, economic and diplomatic sensitivity in Ireland.
Why does the need for backstop arise?
Currently, there is the trading of goods and services between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland with fewer restrictions. This is because the UK and Ireland are part of the EU’s single market and customs union so there is no requirement for the products to be inspected for customs or standards.
But once Brexit comes in, this will change. This will result in delays, safety checks and surveillance at crossing points. The two jurisdictions could fall in different customs regime which means inspecting products at the border. Both the jurisdiction want to prevent this through deep and comprehensive trade deals. But, the UK’s aim to leave customs and single market could act as a hindrance for the parts of Ireland. And if both sides couldn’t come to a conclusion on leaving the border open as the current scenario is – this is where the backstop will come into the picture.
The economies of Northern Ireland and the Republic are interconnected. Thousands of people across the border for work. Huge amounts of products and services cross borders every day. The backstop is a safety net or an insurance policy written into the withdrawal agreement guaranteeing no harder border on the island of Ireland after Brexit.
There are several options to work this out:
The EU originally proposed that it will involve Northern Ireland in the single market and customs union leaving Great Britain ( England, Scotland, Wales) free to strike their own trade deals. But this has been ruled out by PM Boris Johnson and the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party )of Northern Ireland.
Later, Theresa May agreed to a backstop involving the UK by retaining a close relationship with the EU. The backstop wouldn’t apply if the UK left the EU without a deal and the problems at the border would remain the same. Theresa May’s deal was voted down thrice leading to her resignation.
Neither the EU nor UK wants to see the return of a hard border but they cannot agree on a plan to achieve this.
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