Brexit: What happens next?

Nov 16, 2018

The UK Prime Minister Theresa May debated the withdrawal agreement agreed between the UK and EU negotiators in the House of Commons yesterday but what happens next?

EU summit

An EU summit will take place on 25 November 2018 where EU member states will formally approve the text of the withdrawal agreement. Before this summit however, an agreement will have to be reached on the joint political declaration on future relations with the UK.  A draft political statement was released this week and the EU27 will meet to finalise this declaration in the coming days. 

Pre-Christmas vote

The UK government will need to hold a vote in the House of Commons on the withdrawal agreement.  There are reports that this would need to take place in early December in time for the next scheduled European Council summit which takes place on 13 December 2018.  The European Parliament will also need to ratify the agreement before the 13 December. 

Departure date

The UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March 2019 but if the withdrawal agreement is ratified by the UK and EU parliaments, a transition period will begin from that date and run until 31 December 2020. This will give more time to form a deal on the future relationship between the UK and the EU.  There is an option to extend this transition period once the UK makes an application to do so by 1 July 2020.

Temporary backstop

If agreement is not reached by the end of the transition period, a temporary back stop arrangement could be put in place from January 2021 which will place the UK and EU in a separate customs arrangement.  This means there will be no tariffs or quotas or checks for most goods traded between the UK and EU after the transition period and until such time as a free trade agreement or other trading mechanism is agreed between the sides.  During this time, Northern Ireland will temporarily sit in a separate regulatory environment to the rest of the UK which will mean it will have to follow EU rules on customs, VAT and sanitary standards for example.  The UK can only leave the backstop arrangement with consent from the EU. 

All documents on the withdrawal agreement can be found on the TG50 website.