It doesn’t help that the British public itself has difficulty understanding the backstop—with Google searches about it spiking whenever there’s a Brexit development, as they did yesterday.

The issue has become the main hurdle to securing a viable Brexit agreement. May interpreted the results of a 2016 referendum, in which 52% of people voted to leave the EU, as a mandate to leave its single market. But doing so could create a hard border between Northern Ireland, part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland, a separate EU member state. That would contravene the 1998 Good Friday accords, which established hard-won peace after three decades of conflict between republicans and British loyalists in Northern Ireland.

The EU has insisted on a backstop that ties the UK to the EU customs union indefinitely until an all-encompassing free-trade agreement is etched out. But the limbo this would create, which the UK wouldn’t be able to unilaterally end, was the primary reason the deal was voted down by a huge margin earlier this month.

Almost everyone, including the EU, would prefer having a deal in place over leaving without one, something that could have dire consequences. It is this momentum that May will use as she heads to Brussels, with less than two months left before the UK is scheduled to depart from the EU. She has two weeks to try renegotiate before she is next expected to appear in parliament.

In the meantime, British businesses and the public are concerned about what comes next, and how to prepare for it. While some are trying to unpack the intricacies of the process, others have taken to Google searches for “Brexit survival kits.”

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