The UK left the EU on 31 January 2020 at midnight (23:00 GMT). A transitional period is now in effect until 31 December 2020. During this period, all EU laws and regulations continue to apply in the UK. For businesses and the public, virtually nothing will change. This will give everyone more time to prepare for the new agreements that the EU and the UK intend to conclude after 31 December 2020. 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 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.