On 23 March 2018, EU and UK negotiators reached an agreement on the draft withdrawal agreement allowing the European Council (Article 50) to adopt guidelines for the framework for future eu-UK relations. On 22 October 2019, the House of Commons agreed, by 329 votes to 299, to give a second reading to the revised withdrawal agreement (negotiated by Boris Johnson earlier this month), but when the accelerated timetable it had proposed did not receive the necessary parliamentary support, Johnson announced that the law would be overturned.  Boris Johnson has officially signed the EU withdrawal agreement and smiles as he described it as a “fantastic moment” for the country. Although no substantial changes to legal agreements and procedures are generally necessary during the transition period, references to the European Union or the European Economic Area or EU institutions must be amended after 31 January 2020, provided they contain references to the institutions of the United Kingdom or the United Kingdom. On the issue of the Irish border, there is a protocol on Northern Ireland (the “backstop”) which is attached to the agreement and establishes a position of withdrawal which will only come into force in the absence of effective alternative provisions before the expiry of the transition period. In this case, the UK will eclipse the EU`s common external tariff and Northern Ireland will stick to aspects of the internal market until such an event is carried out. Neither party can unilaterally withdraw from this customs union. The aim of this backstop agreement is to avoid a “hard” border in Ireland, where customs controls are needed.  The reception of the agreement in the House of Commons ranged from cold to hostile, and the vote was delayed by more than a month. Prime Minister May has received a motion of no confidence within her own party, but the EU has refused to accept further changes. Von der Leyen and other senior EU officials are sceptical about the UK government`s plan to negotiate a comprehensive agreement on future relations by the end of 2020. They feel that the timetable is too tight. The withdrawal agreement came into force on 1 February 2020, after being adopted on 17 October 2019, at the same time as the political declaration setting the framework for the future partnership between the EU and the UK.
The withdrawal agreement provides for a transitional period until 31 December 2020, during which time the UK will remain in the internal market, to ensure the smooth flow of trade until a long-term relationship is concluded. If no agreement is reached by then, the UK will leave the single market without a trade deal on 1 January 2021. The withdrawal agreement is closely linked to a non-binding political declaration on future relations between the EU and the UK.