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The UK’s EU Withdrawal Agreement, and in particular the protocol on the backstop for Northern Ireland, has been the source of controversy in the UK. The Northern Ireland backstop was one of the key reasons behind the House of Commons’ rejection of the Agreement on Tuesday, 15 January 2019.

In this IIEA paper, Blair Horan argues that when David Cameron decided to call a referendum on the UK’s EU membership, there was no thought given to the trade policy or geopolitical consequences for the UK.

In this context, the author argues the following key points:

  1. That the controversy over the backstop arises because no consideration was given to the consequences of Brexit for the island of Ireland.
  2. That the protocol on the backstop remains essential for securing peace on the island of Ireland.
  3. That for the UK to have a truly favourable trade relationship with the EU, there are only two choices: being inside the EU as a Member State setting the rules, or being outside the EU, taking its rules with no say or influence over them.

This paper can be accessed here.