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The so-called backstop is created to preserve the open border between Northern Ireland and EU member state Ireland in light of the fact that May has insisted that the United Kingdom does not remain either in the European single market or the customs union.

May, during a speech on Tuesday in Belfast, restated her "unshakeable" commitment to avoiding a hard border and said she didn't plan to remove the "insurance policy" entirely.

The Social Democratic and Labour party, Alliance party, Sinn Féin and the Green party all support the backstop and as a recent LucidTalk poll highlighted, with 65 per cent of people in Northern Ireland wanting to be "closely tied to the EU, inside the single market and the customs union", even if the rest of the United Kingdom had a looser arrangement.

May is set to travel to Brussels on Thursday to tell European Union leaders they must accept legally binding changes to the Irish border arrangements of the divorce deal or face the prospect of a disorderly no-deal Brexit.

May is meeting the DUP's Arlene Foster, who has promised to tell the Prime Minister the proposed border backstop "drives a coach and horses through the Belfast Agreement's principle of consent" and would effectively create a new border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

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It comes as campaign coalition British in Europe has written to UK Prime Minister Theresa May urging the UK to offer unilaterally to continue paying for British pensioners' healthcare while waiting for any new bilateral deals to be signed.

Britain is due to leave the bloc on March 29, and the government doesn't have an approved agreement on the rules, conditions and terms that will replace the 45 years of frictionless trade that came with being an European Union member.

The EU is looking to protect its single market and has said the backstop would only be a temporary arrangement.

EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said that backstop remains "the only operational solution available" for an orderly exit of Britain from the EU.

Mrs May agreed to seek further concessions after MPs voted through an amendment in Parliament that demanded "alternative arrangements" to the measure.

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Despite this, the PM is adamant she will get changes made after being told by MPs in Parliament that her deal won't get passed unless she gets rid of the Irish backstop.

"There certainly are voices that argue circumstances have changed but probably this isn't the most propitious time to begin that conversation", he said. "If British politics can not accept the specific needs of this country, of the north of Ireland, if British politics is incapable of acknowledging and upholding the Good Friday Agreement and preventing a hardening of the border, then the only last option - the backstop of last resort - is a referendum on Irish unity", McDonald said.

Commenting on Mr. Tusk's remark, the spokesman for the UK PM Theresa May said it was a question for the European Union official whether he considers use of such language helpful.

Whatever totally legitimate criticism we want to make of the government's deal, of which there are many; picking out the backstop is not the right one.

The border area was a flashpoint on the island of Ireland during decades of conflict, and the free flow of people and goods across the frontier underpins the peace agreement of 1998. The former First Minister said it had endured because it had been driven by local communities.

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A failure to move forward in February would mean increased prospects of an extension to the Article 50 process, which may only kick the can down the road, or the political and economic shock of a no-deal Brexit.

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