Newton Emerson: The backstop has completely backfired for Ireland
Provision has poisoned relations and muddied understanding of Belfast Agreement
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.