The backstop has caused the Government the biggest headache and sparked weeks of deadlock in the Brexit negotiations. The Unionist MPs do not agree with the Government’s plans, which would keep Northern Ireland in a customs union with the EU after Brexit. The document shows the Government is planning for a ‘separate agreement’ and they want any use of the backstop “for the shortest possible period”.
Theresa May’s Brexit deal avoids the reintroduction of a ‘hard’ Irish border due to the built-in transition period that keeps the UK in a customs union with the EU.
The Irish foreign affairs minister Simon Coveney has said Brexit could be delayed if the UK submits a new proposal on its withdrawal from the EU.
Despite public pressure, Mrs May has said holding another referendum on the EU would “break faith with the British people”.
The DUP has displayed opposition to the backstop as Boris Johnson has insisted the Withdrawal Agreement should not even include it.
The backstop would create a single EU-UK customs territory, which would avoid the need for tariffs, quotas or checks between the EU and the UK.
It would also mean Northern Irish businesses would not face restrictions when placing products on the EU’s Single Market.
The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has said his Brexit deal would not feature a backstop and the DUP disliked it “for very good and sensible reasons”.
Last weekend the Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said: “Nobody wants us to have to evoke it the backstop, and if it is evoked, we want to make sure it is for the shortest possible period.”
Brexiteers are concerned the Irish backstop will mean the UK never properly leaves the bloc.
They want to be completely free of the customs union so the country is able to forge international trade deals that would require the UK to be free of EU regulations.