The UK has launched the formal process of withdrawal negotiations by formally announcing the European Council`s intention to leave the EU. 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.  When Boris Johnson became Prime Minister in July 2019, he said there would be no further delay in Brexit and that Britain would step down on 31 October. His preference would be to go with an agreement, but only if it were to be abolished on the basis of a renegotiation procedure to amend the provisions of the VA protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, also known as the ”backstop” said by the Prime Minister. 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 agreement covers issues such as money, citizens` rights, border agreements and dispute resolution. It also includes a transition period and an overview of the future relationship between the UK and the EU. It was published on 14 November 2018 and was the result of the Brexit negotiations. The agreement was approved by the heads of state and government of the other 27 EU countries and by the British government led by Prime Minister Theresa May, but it faced opposition from the British Parliament, which needed approval for ratification.
The approval of the European Parliament would also have been necessary. On January 15, 2019, the House of Commons rejected the withdrawal agreement by 432 votes to 202.  The House of Commons again rejected the agreement by 391 votes to 242 on 12 March 2019 and rejected it a third time, on 29 March 2019, by 344 votes to 286. On 22 October 2019, the revised withdrawal agreement negotiated by Boris Johnson`s government approved the first phase in Parliament, but Johnson halted the legislative process when the accelerated approval programme failed to receive the necessary support and announced his intention to declare a general election.  On 23 January 2020, Parliament ratified the agreement by adopting the withdrawal agreement; On 29 January 2020, the European Parliament approved the withdrawal agreement. It was then concluded by the Council of the European Union on 30 January 2020. On 17 October 2019, the UK and the European Union published the provisionally agreed text of a revised agreement on the terms of the UK`s exit from the EU. However, in this scenario, trade in goods between the rest of the UK and the EU would be much steeper.
In addition, there would be new trade barriers for goods relocated from Britain to Northern Ireland. Indeed, in the absence of trade agreements, the United Kingdom would return to ”WTO” trade terms with the EU, since this protocol does not provide substantial rules for trade in goods between the EU and the United Kingdom, with the exception of Northern Ireland.