Another name for the backstop


Sir, – It would be helpful to stop referring to the clauses in the Withdrawal Agreement about the Northern Irish border as the “Northern Irish backstop”. This phrase gives the incorrect impression that the details are somehow particular only to Northern Ireland and that there is some element of choice or machination about them. The truth is that the “backstop” simply describes the default conditions under which a non-EU country can be permitted to maintain an open border with the EU.

Imagine Denmark were leaving the EU and wanted to keep its border with Germany fully open. Okay, the EU would say, but in order to do so you will need to ensure that your custom tariffs and import regulations are aligned with ours, so that the open border doesn’t become a back door into the EU for cheap and shoddy merchandise. The same would be true for any other country leaving the EU and, one would imagine, for any country that might in future leave the UK.

“Default open border conditions” is a much less emotionally or politically charged term than “Northern Irish backstop”, and conveys much better the universal reasons why the EU cannot “drop” these conditions. – Yours , etc,



Dublin 7.