What is the Brexit backstop plan, when could the option be activated and what will it mean for the Irish border?

THE Brexit backstop is one of the most controversial issues in negotiations with the EU and has threatened to derail the whole process.

Here’s our guide to the plan and what it means for Northern Ireland and its border with the Republic of Ireland.

The Irish border is at the heart of Brexit negotiations, as the UK and EU attempt to bash out a dealGetty Images - Getty What is the Brexit backstop?

The backstop plan is essentially a safety net if there is no Brexit trade deal.

It sets out a list of proposals for customs arrangements with the EU in case a permanent deal is not secured by March 2019, when the UK is due to leave the EU.

But on Friday, August 17, UK officials admitted they were failing to make progress on the contentious Irish border conundrum and that a no-deal scenario was moving closer.

Prime Minister Theresa May secured approval from senior ministers for the arrangement that could keep the UK in a customs union with the EU beyond the end of 2020.

It would ensure that no “tariffs, quotas, rules of origin or customs processes” would be applied to UK-EU trade.

At the same time the UK would be able to strike free trade agreements with other countries.

What would it mean for the Irish border?

The backstop plan seeks to keep the Irish border open after Brexit.

It’s seen as vital that a hard border is prevented between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland — which could happen were no deal struck and the two countries suddenly existed in different customs unions.


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