The European Commission has proposed to Brussels to apply the agreement provisionally until 28 February. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the ATT would allow the UK to “regain control of our laws, borders, money, trade and fisheries” and change the basis of EU-UK relations “from the EU`s right to free trade and friendly cooperation”.  Opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer said his Labour Party would support the ATT because the alternative would be a no-deal Brexit, but that his party would seek to strengthen labour and environmental protection in parliament. Nevertheless, many members of his party rejected the agreement.  The Scottish National Party rejected the ATT because of the economic damage that leaving the single market would cause Scotland.  All other opposition parties rejected the ATT.  On the issue of the Irish border, there is a Northern Ireland Protocol (the “backstop”) annexed to the Agreement which establishes a fallback position that will only enter into force if no other effective arrangement is demonstrated before the end of the transition period. In this case, the UK will eclipse the EU`s common external tariff and Northern Ireland will remain in some aspects of the single market until such a demonstration 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.  After the UK decided to leave the EU in a referendum in 2016 (“Brexit”), it did so on 31 January 2020.  Until 31 December 2020, there was a transition period during which the UK was still considered part of the EU in most areas. After the first negotiations between the UK and the EU resulted in the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, which implemented the UK`s withdrawal, negotiations began on an agreement to regulate trade and other relations between the EU and the UK after the end of the transition period. If that body finds that one party has failed to fulfil its obligations, the other party may (partially) suspend its own obligations under the agreement. The agreement excludes any role of UK or EU courts, including the Court of Justice of the European Union, in the settlement of disputes between the EU and the UK.  The Withdrawal Agreement provides for a transition period until 31 December 2020, during which the UK will remain in the Single Market to ensure a smooth flow of trade until a long-term relationship is agreed. If no agreement is reached by that date, the UK will leave the single market on 1 January 2021 without a trade agreement. A non-binding political declaration on the future relationship between the EU and the UK is closely linked to the Withdrawal Agreement.
Following approval by the Council of the European Union on 29 December, the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, signed the ACC on behalf of the EU on 30 December 2020.  The agreement was then flown to London and signed by Prime Minister Boris Johnson for the UK.  The Withdrawal Agreement provides for a transition period until 31 December 2020. This period may be extended once by one or two years, but this extension must be extended before 1. July 2020 by mutual agreement between the EU and the UK. That date has now passed without an extension having been agreed. The most important elements of the draft agreement are the following: In the preface to the copy of the text published by the British government, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that the agreement had been “carefully evaluated to benefit everyone” and to preserve “free trade for millions of people in the UK and across Europe”. EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier (C) holds the 2,000-page Brexit trade deal in his hands alongside Greek (R) representatives at a special Coreper meeting to present details of the Brexit trade deal on 25 December 2020 in Brussels, Belgium. [Pool/EPA/EFE] David Frost, the UK`s chief negotiator, told reporters on Saturday that the deal was “one of the largest and broadest agreements ever reached covering not only trade in goods, but also services, aviation, road transport, social security, health cooperation and law enforcement.” Immediately after the announcement of a revised withdrawal agreement on 17 October 2019, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the DUP declared that they could not support the new agreement.  The Agreement applies to the territory of the United Kingdom and the EU. It does not apply to Gibraltar, which was also part of the EU but for which separate negotiations are underway between the UK, Spain and the EU.  The Agreement applies to the Isle of Man, the Bailiwick of Guernsey and the Bailiwick of Jersey (which have given their consent) with respect to trade in goods and fisheries.
 As regards Northern Ireland, the rules on trade in goods do not apply, as these provisions (as well as the provisions on the application of EU law in this area and the intervention of the Court of Justice of the European Union) are governed by a protocol to the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.  Britain and the European Union on Saturday (26 December) released the full text of the post-Brexit trade deal, which aims to settle their relationship when the UK finally leaves the EU`s single market in just five days. The 1 246-page agreement (including annexes) covers its general objectives and framework with detailed provisions for fisheries, social security, trade, transport and visas; and cooperation in judicial, law enforcement and security matters. Other provisions include continued participation in community programs and dispute resolution mechanisms.  The Northern Ireland Protocol, known as the “Irish backstop”, was an annex to the November 2018 draft agreement outlining provisions to prevent a hard border in Ireland following the United Kingdom`s withdrawal from the European Union. The Protocol included a provision for a safety net to deal with circumstances in which other satisfactory arrangements have yet to enter into force at the end of the transition period. This project has been replaced by a new protocol which will be described below. .