The withdrawal agreement provides for a transitional period until 31 December 2020, during which time the UK will remain in the internal market, to ensure the smooth flow of trade until a long-term relationship is concluded. If no agreement is reached by then, the UK will leave the single market without a trade deal on 1 January 2021. The withdrawal agreement is closely linked to a non-binding political declaration on future relations between the EU and the UK. The transition period ends in accordance with the withdrawal agreement. This triggered Article 50 of the Treaty on the European Union, which defines the procedure for the withdrawal of an EU member state, thus opening a two-year countdown to withdrawal. The European Union and the United Kingdom have reached a draft withdrawal agreement. Immediately after the announcement of a revised withdrawal agreement on October 17, 2019, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the DUP said they could not support the new agreement.  On 29 March 2017, the United Kingdom notified the European Council of its intention to leave the European Union in accordance with Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. The European Commission`s UK Relations Task Force (UKTF) coordinates work on all strategic, operational, legal and financial issues related to the UK`s withdrawal and its future relationship with the European Union. Michel Barnier is the head of this task force. This is the third time the British Parliament has rejected the agreement. The UK has until 12 April 2019 to decide on the way forward: the withdrawal agreement also includes a protocol on the UK`s basic sovereign territories in Cyprus and a protocol on Gibraltar, which provides for the specific issues raised by the UK`s withdrawal from the EU regarding Gibraltar.
The agreement also provides for a transitional period, which will last until 31 December 2020 and can be extended by mutual agreement. During the transitional period, EU legislation will continue to apply to the UK (including participation in the European Economic Area, the internal market and the customs union) and the UK will continue to contribute to the EU budget, but the UK will not be represented in EU decision-making bodies. The transition period will give businesses time to adapt to the new situation and the new era, so that the British and European governments can negotiate a new trade agreement between the EU and the UK.  The new relationship between the EU and the UK begins, provided an agreement has been reached, approved by the EU Member States, the European Parliament and the British Parliament. The UK government and the other 27 EU member states approve the draft agreement. The Northern Ireland Protocol, known as the Irish Backstop, was an annex to the November 2018 draft agreement outlining provisions to avoid a hard border in Ireland after the UK`s withdrawal from the European Union. The protocol provided for a provision of the safety net to deal with the circumstances in which satisfactory alternative arrangements were to come into force at the end of the transition period. This project has been replaced by a new protocol that will be described as follows.