This piece has been updated to cover the latest political developments around the backstop. The backstop is part of the draft withdrawal agreement negotiated between Theresa May`s government and the EU. The “backstop” plan was agreed by negotiators between the UK and the EU and was part of Theresa May`s withdrawal deal in November 2018 (often referred to as the Brexit “divorce deal”). This is where the controversial backstop comes in. During the withdrawal negotiations, the Irish border issue was one of three areas that required a specific stream of negotiations to reach the necessary withdrawal agreement before future relations between the UK and the EU could be agreed.    The Irish and British governments as well as EU officials have stated that they do not want a hard border in Ireland, given the historical and social “sensitivities” that cross the island.  It seems unlikely that the EU will sign a withdrawal agreement that does not include the Irish backstop or anything very similar. On 17 October 2019, EU leaders and Boris Johnson agreed on a revised withdrawal agreement that replaced the backstop with a new protocol.   In essence, this project would de facto keep Northern Ireland in the EU customs union and in the internal goods market (including the introduction of EU VAT), while allowing Britain to deviate. In December 2019, Labour announced that it had received an HM Treasury Paper with the Freedom of Information Act 2000, which appears to show that the Prime Minister`s draft agreement would require certain types of two-way customs checks between Britain and Northern Ireland.  In an earlier version of this piece, it was incorrectly stated that critics of the Irish backstop were concerned that “this will lead to other rules for Northern Ireland compared to the rest of the EU”, which should have been “the rest of the United Kingdom”. The terms of the backstop were finalized in November 2018. CONSIDERING that the joint report by EU and UK government negotiators on progress in the first phase of the Article 50 Negotiations on The Kill (EU Treaty) on the UK`s orderly withdrawal from the European Union on 8 December 2017 presents three different scenarios for the protection of North-South cooperation and to avoid a hard border that this protocol is based on the third scenario , which provides for full alignment with these EU rules.
Internal market and customs union which, now or in the future, support North-South cooperation, the island`s economy and the protection of the 1998 agreement, without an alternative settlement being agreed to implement another scenario…  In addition, paragraph 50 stressed that there would be no new controls on goods and services that would be transferred from Northern Ireland to Britain. In 2018, point 50 of the final eu withdrawal agreement was omitted on the grounds that it was an internal matter in the UK. The final withdrawal agreement for 2018 was originally approved by the British Prime Minister (Theresa May), but the DUP (whose minority government depended on confidence and supply support) vetoed a parliamentary vote in January 2019.  In order to avoid a border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom, Article 6 of the Northern Ireland Protocol proposes that the United Kingdom and EU customs officers operate from the end of the transition period (December 31, 2020) until the parties agree on a satisfactory alternative for both parties.  The single customs territory between the UK and the EU does not apply to fish products: for example, fish transported from Britain to Northern Ireland would be subject to EU tariffs in the absence of a separate fishing agreement.  This protocol was strongly rejected by the Democratic Unionist Party, which saw it as a weakening of Northern Ireland`s place in the United Kingdom and was seen by a number of commentators as the main reason why the withdrawal agreement was not ratified by the United Kingdom Parliament.  [4