The House of Commons votes on the Brexit bill. This means that the UK is on track to leave the EU on 31 January. However, the House of Lords and the European Parliament have yet to approve the agreement. Eurosceptic critics, including the EU`s anti-conservative European research group (ERG), have said they would have permanently linked the UK to EU trade policy. EU sources said the UK mechanism was included in the withdrawal agreement at the request of the UK, in order to avoid the secession of Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK. 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.  Other important issues, such as cooperation in the areas of security and terrorism, education and science, are likely to remain in the air unless detailed agreement is reached on future relations between the EU and the UK.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson wins the British general election. It is therefore likely that the Brexit deal will soon be adopted. If the British Parliament approves the agreement, the European Parliament can vote on it in January. Following the discussions, the EU said the withdrawal agreement was a legal obligation, adding that “neither the EU nor the UK can change, clarify, modify, interpret, disobey or implement it unilaterally.” The 599-page withdrawal agreement covers the following main areas: Since March, the EU and the UK have continued regular rounds of negotiations despite the difficulties associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. The EU is conducting its negotiations on the basis of the mutually agreed political declaration. However, significant differences have not yet been resolved in some areas. These differences include fair competition, horizontal management of each agreement and fisheries. EU and UK negotiators Michel Barnier and David Frost and their teams have recently stepped up their negotiations. The clock is ticking, because an agreement must be reached quickly to have time for ratification by the European Parliament. Former Prime Minister Sir John Major said: “For generations, Britain`s word – solemnly given – has been accepted by friend and foe. Our signature on every contract or agreement was untouchable. The EU and the UK reach an interim agreement.
It includes a transition period until 31 December 2020, during which all EU rules will continue to apply.