With regard to the Irish border issue, there is a protocol on Northern Ireland (the “backstop”) which is annexed to the agreement and defines a return case position that will only enter into force in the absence of evidence of other effective arrangements before the end of the transitional period. If this is the case, the UK will eclipse the EU`s external common law and Northern Ireland will remain in the internal market aspects until such a manifestation is achieved. None of the parties 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 necessary.  The NI protocol, called the “backstop”, is supposed to be temporary and must be applicable, unless it is replaced by an agreement on the future relationship that the parties will try to reach by December 31, 2020. The Protocol foresees that the common travel area and North-South cooperation will continue to a large extent as it does today, as will the internal electricity market (so that some EU legislation on wholesale electricity markets will continue to apply). The receipt of the agreement in the House of Commons ranged from fresh to hostile and the vote was delayed by more than a month. Prime Minister May won a no-confidence motion against her own party, but the EU refused to accept further changes. The Withdrawal Agreement provides for a transitional period until 31 December 2020, during which the United Kingdom will remain in the internal market to ensure smooth trade until a long-term relationship is agreed.
In the absence of an agreement on that date, the UK will leave the internal market on 1 January 2021 without a trade agreement. The Withdrawal Agreement is closely linked to a non-binding political declaration on the future relationship between the EU and the UK. On 13 November 2018, the EU decided that “decisive progress” had been made in the Brexit negotiations, and on 14 November, the European Commission and the UK government published a draft withdrawal agreement, as well as three protocols (on the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, the UK territorial areas in Cyprus and Gibraltar) and nine annexes. The text of the negotiated Withdrawal Agreement was endorsed by the Heads of State or Government of the European Union at a special meeting of the European Council on 25 November 2018, as well as the Political Declaration on the framework for the future relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom. . . .