What is the ‘Irish backstop’? Here’s why it has taken center stage amid chaotic Brexit negotiations

The backstop plan is essentially a legally-binding insurance policy to ensure there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland whatever the outcome of future trade talks between the U.K. and the EU.

Presently, there are no customs or regulatory checks on goods passing between Northern Ireland, which is part of the U.K., and the Republic of Ireland.

That’s because the EU’s single market and customs union arrangements make it easy for people, goods and services to cross the border, with both nations following a similar set of rules and regulations.

However, there are fears on all sides of the political spectrum that Britain’s departure from the EU at the end of March could lead to an increase in safety checks, delays and surveillance at crossing points on the island.

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