The UK Government must propose its own version of the Irish border “backstop” in order for Brexit negotiations to proceed.

This IfG Insight paper finds that despite the Government’s stated commitment to avoiding a hard border in Ireland, little progress has been made in finding a workable long-term solution. This will be a key issue at the upcoming June 28–29 European Council.

The report says the Government must now set out its own proposal for a backstop ahead of the June Council. A UK-wide version of the backstop, in which certain EU rules areas apply to the whole country, would avoid a sea border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. Agreeing a backstop would also save Whitehall and business the time and money they would otherwise have spent preparing for a ‘no deal’ scenario.

But the UK cannot let the backstop become the end of negotiations on the border. Instead, this backstop must incentivise both sides to negotiate something better for the long term.