The Irish backstop and the arrangements to replace it are now the focus of the eleventh-hour Brexit talks. Their importance is not because of Ireland, but because of the battle for the UK’s constitutional freedom to decide the laws that govern this country’s economy and trade.
Will the UK’s economic system break free of EU law allowing both an independent trade policy and the UK’s laws to diverge from the EU’s? ‘That is the point of our exit,’ as Boris Johnson told Donald Tusk in August.
Or will there be continued subjugation or an eventual UK return to the bloc? All depends on whether Boris Johnson's government, unlike Theresa May's, will withstand EU pressure towards economic alignment – or, as it is euphemistically called, the ‘level playing field’.