The authoritative source for independent research on UK-EU relations

11 Feb 2019

Relationship with the EU


A new report by The UK in a Changing Europe addresses all the key issues related to the backstop.

Brexit and the backstop: everything you need to know is written by leading academics, who  explain what the backstop is, why it’s needed, what its history is, what’s happening to the politics around it, and whether the EU might change it.

  • David Phinnemore explains the backstop and draws attention to the fact there is not just one backstop but a series of backstop arrangements on the likes of customs, goods regulation and north-south co-operation
  • Anand Menon and Matt Bevington provide a history of the backstop, explaining that no other solution has been found to the problem of how to maintain an open border between two legal jurisdictions
  • Colin Harvey explains why the backstop is needed, stressing the necessity for an insurance policy for the border in such volatile political times
  • Mary C Murphy, looks at the politics in Westminster and Northern Ireland
  • John Garry shows that public opinion in Northern Ireland favours a Brexit outcome that has minimal implications for the border, with the whole of the UK remaining closely aligned to the EU
  • Matt Bevington explores the historical precedents for the EU making changes to treaties during negotiations
  • Simon Usherwood considers the possibility of the EU’s position changing on the backstop, saying that the biggest barrier to EU flexibility is the lack of a majority in Westminster for any particular outcome
  • Graham Gudgin argues that the Malthouse Compromise is a workable solution, not least because it offers the EU an alternative to no deal if Theresa May’s deal falls
  • Katy Hayward, by contrast, argues that the Malthouse Compromise would not work and would add significantly more friction at the border than currently exists
  • Catherine Barnard and Georges Baur look at alternative border arrangements with third countries across the EU and concludes that regardless of the technological capabilities, checks and infrastructure are inevitable
  • Katy Hayward outlines what no deal would mean for the North-South border, making it a customs and regulatory frontier that would necessitate a wide range of border procedures.


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