The backstop aiming to prevent a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland is the main sticking point in the Brexit negotiations between the UK government and the EU. It appears that the UK fears that they will be indefinitely trapped in a customs-union type arrangement with no way of exiting it. The EU is presumably concerned that a British government would unilaterally end the backstop to the detriment of citizens in Northern Ireland.
A potential option that I was discussing in private was allowing Northern Ireland a referendum on options if the UK determines that they want to exit the customs union without some mutually acceptable alternative arrangements being in place. The obvious options would be
- remain in the customs union (and implement a customs border in the Irish Sea)
- leave the customs union (and implement a customs border with Ireland)
- (perhaps there are other additional options)
I haven't seen such an idea discussed - has it been brought up in negotiations/discussions? What would be the main problems with such a scenario?