UK submit proposals for replacing the backstop

Cian Dunne

Illustration Credit: Isabella Finn

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has submitted formal proposals to the EU, that could replace the backstop.

The backstop, which was negotiated by former Prime Minister Theresa May in the original Withdrawal Agreement in 2018, would prevent the reintroduction of a hard border between Northern Ireland, and the Republic.

The new proposal submitted by Boris Johnson is centred on the ongoing commitment to maintaining the Good Friday Agreement. Johnson also calls for collaboration between the UK and Ireland in the new proposal, regarding an all-island regulatory zone, which will allow for trade deals, and a Common Travel Area on the island of Ireland.

“Let’s not forget that we have a deal that we know works”, said Tánaiste Simon Coveney.

“The UK wants to change that deal, and while I believe we can change that approach, the outcome must be the same,” he added.

The proposal also states that Northern Ireland will have a say in whether or not an all-island regulatory zone will be created, as Northern Ireland will be directly affected by the outcome.

Finally, it states that on the 31st of October, the UK, along with Northern Ireland, will leave the EU customs union.  

This new proposal is a positive step forward; however, a certain level of doubt and confusion still remains for those close to the border. As the UK plans to leave the customs union, the possibility of avoiding a hard border remains unlikely.

With a hard border still on the horizon, the daily lives of those living in Northern Ireland remain uncertain, for workers and students alike. Students living in Northern Ireland, and attending college in the south, will face a number of new and difficult obstacles.

The added restrictions of these border checks could act as a deterrent, for many students living in Northern Ireland, from attending any colleges beyond the border. 

Similarly, restrictions on those travelling to Northern Ireland from the south will be forced into making changes to their day to day lives.

For DCU student and Cavan native Amy Donohoe, some of her daily luxuries may be in jeopardy.

“I live in Cootehill, so that’s like twenty minutes from the border”, Amy said.

“If the hard border does come into existence, I’d probably wouldn’t be able to do the things I’d like to do, like going to Belfast or Asda, and thank god I don’t go to college in Northern Ireland.”

Author: Cian Dunne

Image credit: Isabella Finn