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 This project has been replaced by a new protocol that will be described as follows. The UK has launched the formal process of withdrawal negotiations by formally announcing the European Council`s intention to leave the EU. The timing of ratifications has been discussed. The European Parliament (EP) has said it will not approve the VA until the UK ratification process is completed. 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.  The European Union and the United Kingdom have approved the withdrawal agreement. The British Parliament and the European Parliament have yet to approve the withdrawal agreement. The EU and the UK reach a provisional agreement on citizens` rights and the financial regime of Brexit. 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 withdrawal agreement is complemented by the political declaration setting the framework for future relations between the European Union and the statement of Her Majesty`s Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on the application of the “Democratic Approval in Northern Ireland” provision of the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland. The aim of the political declaration is to define “the parameters of an ambitious, broad, thorough and flexible partnership on trade and economic cooperation, with a comprehensive and balanced free trade agreement on the merits.” It sets the tone and provides the framework for detailed and complex negotiations which, after the UK and the EU, aim to reach agreement on a free trade agreement. The 2019 revisions also adapted elements of the political declaration and replaced the word “appropriate” with “appropriate” with respect to labour standards.