Today the Government published its Agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the EU and EU Atomic Energy Community, the full document can be downloaded here.
With regards to trade with the EU the document states that in the aftermath of Brexit, we would go into a transition period during which there would be no change to current to existing customs processes and procedures. The UK would continue to obey EU Rules. The transition period end on 31 December 2020 – but this can be extended further.
During the transition period the UK would continue to hold discussions with the EU on its long term relationship with regarding trade with the aim of making this as frictionless as possible without any tariffs and quantitative restrictions. However, this does not rule out other less visible barriers to trade.
If there is no deal or agreement on the long term relationship that makes a hard border on the island of Ireland unnecessary, then the backstop would come into force. Which basically means the UK would continue to be part of a ‘customs union’ with the EU. Whilst this would also prevent tariffs and trade between the EU and UK it would also mean the UK would be unable to set its own tariffs on trade with third countries and develop its own free trade agreements.
The above assumes that this document gets full approval. Once further information is available we will update our website