The Deputy is correct that a backstop is normally something one implements if nothing else can be agreed. What we have achieved in these negotiations is an acceptance from the United Kingdom and European Union sides that we would agree the backstop first, if one likes, because we will not know what the final deal looks like until the future relationship negotiations have been completed. It will take a couple of years to agree the future relationship in trade, security, data sharing, aviation, agriculture, fishing and other areas that must be negotiated over time. The Government has stated we will not proceed with that unless we know we have agreed a backstop at an early date that can reassure people in Donegal and Derry that the Border, which does not impact on their lives today because it is largely invisible, will remain that way through Brexit. The British Government's agreement to that approach was the significant step forward achieved in March and we are now trying to agree a legally operable text for the backstop.
Everybody involved in the negotiations accepts there will not be a withdrawal treaty unless it includes a backstop. The withdrawal treaty is just that - the divorce arrangements. A future relationship agreement will then need to be achieved and if we can reach an agreement on borders and trade that is so seamless and attractive as not to require any border infrastructure on the island of Ireland, we will not need the backstop. However, we will insist on having the backstop in place as an insurance or fallback mechanism as part of the withdrawal treaty. To use the language of the negotiators, the backstop will be there unless or until something better is agreed.