A narrow majority of British voters decided to leave the European Union in a referendum in June 2016. The complexity of Northern Ireland`s single status hampered efforts to conclude the divorce. As a member of the EU, the UK is part of its customs union and internal market. After Brexit, it will leave both – the status of the Irish border at a customs border with related controls and controls. To avoid this result, given its negative practical and psychological effects, EU leaders and then-Prime Minister Theresa May agreed on a «backstop» provision. Until alternative mechanisms are put in place, the UK will have to remain in a customs union with the EU and Northern Ireland to respect the rules of the internal market for goods.3 The backstop has proved unpopular domestically and has contributed to Parliament rejecting May`s deal three times. The Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland (DUP), whose 10 MPs backed May`s Conservative minority government, has refused special status for the region. Hardline Brexiteers feared that the country would remain indefinitely bound by EU rules and would not be able to negotiate free trade agreements. The Irish backstop was a protocol to the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement (unsinverted) that the UK would have held (in general) in the customs union of the European Union and Northern Ireland (in particular) on certain aspects of the European internal market, until a solution was found to avoid a hard border. This should not undermine the Good Friday Agreement and preserve the integrity of the European internal market. It would only have been put into operation if there had been no other solutions before the end of the (agreed) transitional period. Beyond benevolent neglect, the Trump administration has actively applauded British extremists who want a no-deal exit from the European Union, regardless of the cost to Northern Ireland.
When this committee held a hearing on Brexit almost two years ago, my Brookings colleague Tom Wright described the government`s approach as «a predatory policy aimed at immediately taking advantage of the loopholes and weaknesses created for the UK». .