Newton Emerson: The backstop has completely backfired for Ireland

Provision has poisoned relations and muddied understanding of Belfast Agreement

British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tables a motion of no confidence in the UK government as Theresa May's Brexit deal is defeated by 230 votes in the House of Commons.

As Westminster stumbles towards heaven knows what on Brexit, Ireland is learning Putnam’s theory of two-level games: in an international negotiation you should only clobber your opponent up to the point where they can sell a deal at home. The backstop was a clobbering too far, and the pain spread like an infection.

An analysis of statements by 105 Conservative MPs opposed to the EU withdrawal agreement, published last Sunday, found only 13 cited the Northern Ireland backstop in their objections. However, 81 cited the “rule-taking” that flows from the British government’s attempt to sell the backstop to the DUP by extending its customs union aspect to the whole UK.

The Irish Times
Please subscribe or sign in to continue reading.
The Irish Times

How can I keep reading?

You’ve reached an article that is only available to Irish Times subscribers.

Subscribe today and get the full picture for just €1 for the first month.

Subscribe No obligation, cancel any time.