The author of a report, "Brexit at the Border", has said that the “pressure is on our political parties; especially those with the influence of the DUP” if a "best of both worlds" brexit is to become a reality.
Dr Katy Hayward, who is a Reader of Sociology at Queens and who has 20 years research experience on the impact of the EU on the Irish border and peace process, was responding to an article penned by DUP leader Arlene Foster in last week’s Impartial Reporter. 
In that article Mrs Foster laid out what the “best of both worlds” would be for Northern Ireland, which included; full access to UK single market, full access to the EU single market, and full access to future UK and EU trade deals.
Mrs Foster said that no-one has offered this “best of both worlds” to Northern Ireland but Dr Hayward claims that it is possible but only if the “UK remains closely aligned to the EU’s single market and if it stays in a customs union with the EU.”
Dr Hayward does not see a smooth path to any such scenario however.
“But, as Mrs Foster is well aware, the most vocal (if not the most numerous) MPs in the Tory party want the UK to have a far more remote relationship with the EU after Brexit. If they succeed, this would automatically mean more barriers to trade with the EU, including across the Irish border,” she stated. 
Dr Hayward agreed that the Mrs Foster’s argument against any sort of backstop was “perfectly reasonable” as it is not “the intended destination.” But she still argues that it is of “critical importance”.
. It is the issue over which the whole Withdrawal Agreement could collapse, leaving all of us in the mire of a ‘No Deal’ outcome.
“It is therefore very important that all judgements of the backstop are based on a clear and accurate understanding of what it actually means, unclouded by hyperbole.”
And it is in relation to the backstop where Dr Hayward, who is a Fellow in the Senator George J. Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice, took most issue with Mrs Foster analysis:
“Foster claims that Northern Ireland’s access to the UK single market would be restricted. In actual fact this is entirely in the hands of the British government – it is a domestic issue unrelated to UK-EU negotiations,” the Queens Reader asserted, before adding:
“Secondly, Foster says that ‘EU access, comes with the requirement for Northern Ireland to fully adopt and implement EU regulations with no changes’. But it is not necessary to have full regulatory alignment with the EU in order to have tariff free access to its market. That would be like saying we'd have to have all our laws imposed by Beijing if we are to get tariff-free access to China.”
Dr Hayward does however admit that major divergence would require an operational backstop:
“That said, if the UK diverges widely from the ‘common rulebook’ of the EU’s single market, it would not be possible for goods produced in Northern Ireland to have free movement around the single market as is currently the case. It would be in just such an instance that the backstop could come into play. This would not mean that all EU laws would apply in Northern Ireland but rather that goods produced here could be considered to be of EU standard if certain procedures are followed.”
In her opinion piece last week Mrs Foster stated that:
“Free Trade Agreements don’t just cover regulation but tariffs too. This would require not just being in the single market but in the customs union. In other words, a total sea Border descending between Northern Ireland and its largest market, Great Britain.”
Dr Hayward does not agree however and says “there is absolutely no prospect of a total sea border under any scenario. 
“There will be no barriers to movement from here into Britain. And – if the backstop did come into play – any controls on the movement of goods from Britain into Northern Ireland would apply only to a limited range of goods, and with as light a touch as possible.”