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FL: Understanding the Brexit backstop problem October 24, 2018 at 07:06AM

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Why is Brexit taking so long to agree?
‘What happens when an immovable object meets an unstoppable force?’ You get the Brexit backstop problem. So, what’s it all about?

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It is all about this border below,. The border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland on the left hand side of the map. The UK has no land borders with the EU apart from in Ireland. This is why it’s border has become such a focus as it is the only ‘touch point’ between them

The problem is  that the EU came up with the assertion, in March this year that if no other solutions could be found, N.Ireland would have to stay in the EU customs union and the majority of parts of the single market until a long-term trade deal could be worked out.

Britain responded by saying that it could not accept this idea since it would mean treating Northern Ireland differently to the UK. It would, in effect, create a custom border in the Irish Sea and split the United Kingdom up, leaving N.Ireland isolated. In the map above – it would turn out like this below, driving a wedge between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

N.Ireland is a key part of the UK and particularly cherishes it’s part within the UK. The issue is also highly politicised and charged with fears of this being used to re-unite Ireland and reverse some of the Good Friday agreement which has brought considerable peace to Ireland. For Northern Ireland’s DUP leader Arlene Foster, this issue is , ‘a blood red line’.  The ability to compromise here is extremely difficult. We saw this yesterday with the EU’s offer of a UK wide customs agreement. However, it had to be negotiated as a separate treaty. This meant that Northern Ireland could end up cut off from the rest of the UK. A possibility that the UK will not allow. Fear, anger, politics, and division all mean the UK won’t shift on this.

When superman was asked, ‘What happens when an immovable object meets an unstoppable force?’ , he answered , ‘they surrender’ . Wise words, something or someone will have to give. The only question is which side will give first, the EU or Britain?. We have some pretty smart readers here – how do you think this stalemate will be broken? For now, it will continue to weigh in the GBP and keep selling those rallies.

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