In 1922, the United Kingdom and the new Irish Free State concluded a Common Travel Area (CTA) agreement. This gave British and Irish citizens the right to travel, live and work in both jurisdictions. Passport controls are not applied to travel between them. The provisions on free movement resulting from EU membership replaced it to some extent, but the parties continued to keep their bilateral agreement alive even though it did not have treaty status. In 2011, the UK and Irish governments informally agreed to continue their joint controls on the entry of non-EEA nationals into CTA.  The Withdrawal Agreement and the new “backstop instrument” were rejected by Parliament in March 2019. The Withdrawal Agreement was rejected a third time this month. Under the draft Withdrawal Agreement, the UK would enter a “transition period” after Brexit (currently scheduled for 31 October 2019). The aim is for the UK to remain in some form of customs union with the EU if no trade deal is reached. The backstop remains the biggest obstacle to Brexit negotiations with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who insists the mechanism must be removed from the withdrawal agreement, but the EU refuses to remove the backstop from the withdrawal agreement. This article is now obsolete as it refers to the Irish backstop as set out in Theresa May`s withdrawal agreement in November 2018. It reflects the situation until August 2019.
A leaked memo from Industry Secretary Richard Harrington, available for Sky News, said: “This idea [technical solution] was considered and rejected by the UK and the EU in the summer of 2018, with both sides concluding that it would not keep an open border. That`s why we ended up with the current safety net. There are currently no borders in the world, apart from a customs union that has eliminated border infrastructure.  Brexit: Michel Barnier questions Theresa May`s “backstop plan” Since about 2005, the border has been perceived as invisible, with little or no physical infrastructure, as security barriers and checkpoints have been removed due to processes introduced by the Good Friday Agreement (or “Belfast Agreement”) signed in 1998.  [b]  This Agreement has the status of both an international treaty between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland (British-Irish Agreement) and an agreement of the Parties in Northern Ireland (Multi-Party Agreement). The Irish backstop has been highly controversial among some MEPs and is one of the main reasons why the Withdrawal Agreement has not yet been adopted by Parliament. New Prime Minister Boris Johnson now says the backstop is “dead”. .