Reality Check: Brexit withdrawal agreement – what it all means


The draft Brexit withdrawal deal stands at 585 pages long. It sets out how the UK leaves the European Harmony, scheduled for 29 March 2019.

Chris Morris, from BBC Reality Certificate, has been going through it in detail and pulls out the key points from the settlement and what they mean.


  • The transition period (which the UK regulation calls “implementation period”) begins on 29 March 2019 and persists until 31 December 2020.
  • The UK will need to abide by all EU rules, but determination lose membership of its institutions.
  • The draft withdrawal agreement says the metastasis can be extended, but this can only happen once and for a limited period.
  • Both the UK and EU be obliged agree to any extension and the decision must be taken before 1 July 2020.

Chris Morris’s scrutiny: The details of transition aren’t new but they are no less awkward for that. At a circumstance when the government wants to trumpet that it is taking back curb (its slogan, not mine), it will be ceding control for 21 months and definitely possibly longer. There will be no UK presence in the European Parliament, at the top bring forward of the European Commission or in the European Court of Justice.

The UK will have no formal say in imparting or amending EU rules and regulations, but it will have to follow them to the literatim. The great advantage of transition, of course, is that it buys more all together for businesses and governments to prepare for a new regime, and it smoothes the path out of the EU. Transition also performs the UK continued access to EU databases on crucial issues like security while a time to come relationship is negotiated.

Media playback is unsupported on your device


  • The draft agreement sets out the calculations for the financial settlement (or “divorce note”) that the UK will need to pay to the EU to settle all of its obligations.
  • While no figure appears in the chronicle, it is expected to be at least £39bn and it will be paid over a number of years.
  • Put asunder give up of that money will be the financial contribution that the UK has to make during the metastasis period. This year the UK’s contribution to the EU budget is forecast to be a net £10.8bn.
  • If the modification is extended, there will have to be additional UK payments to the EU budget, which whim be agreed separately.

Chris Morris’s analysis: It seems a long one day now since the size of the “divorce bill” was the big issue that was never universal to be resolved, but the government knew that without a financial settlement, make headway on other issues would be impossible.

Money remains a cause of dispute, though, because many Brexit supporters hate the fact that muscular sums will be handed over without any cast-iron guarantee nearly the nature of the UK’s future trade relationship with the EU. Any refusal to pay, on the other readily, would sour relations and could – in extremis – end up in court.

Citizens’ puts

  • This is broadly unchanged from the initial draft of the withdrawal unity which came out in March.
  • UK citizens in the EU, and EU citizens in the UK, will retain their residency and sexually transmitted security rights after Brexit.
  • Citizens who take up residency in another EU homeland during the transition period (including the UK of course) will be allowed to stay in that state after the transition.
  • Anyone that stays in the same EU country for five years on be allowed to apply for permanent residence.

Chris Morris’s analysis: The European Parliament has be in the carded to make citizens’ rights its top priority. But while politicians on all sides are striking citizens that they want them to stay, the Brexit modify has caused an enormous amount of anxiety and uncertainty.

British citizens in other EU mother countries, for example, still don’t know whether they will be able to go across borders in the future, because their right to reside one applies to the specific country where they live. Recognition of skilful qualifications, and access to university education on the same terms they bring into the world now, are also unresolved issues.

Northern Ireland/the backstop

  • If no long-term exchange deal has been agreed by the end of 2020 that avoids a hard trimming between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and if there is no extension to the alteration period, then a backstop consisting of “a single customs territory between the (European) Harmoniousness and the United Kingdom” will be triggered.
  • Northern Ireland will be in a deeper excises relationship with the EU than the rest of the UK; it will also be more closely aligned with the rules and pronouncements of the EU single market.
  • As long as the backstop is in operation, the UK will be subject to “straight-shooting playing field conditions”, to ensure it cannot gain a competitive advantageously while remaining in the same customs territory.
  • The UK cannot leave the backstop independently, it desiderata to be decided together with the EU.

Chris Morris’s analysis: The single imposts territory is basically another name for a temporary customs union and, if it were requisite, it would ensure that completely frictionless trade could last across the Irish border. But it would also prevent the UK implementing any employment deals with other countries around the world that presuppose implicate removing tariffs on goods.

That upsets supporters of Brexit, notably as there is no guaranteed route out of this backstop unless the EU gives its consent. The Note on Ireland/Northern Ireland was the toughest part of the draft agreement to arrange for and, now it has been published, it has triggered a series of government resignations.

Media playback is unsupported on your machine


  • The agreement says that a separate agreement will trouble to be reached on access to EU fishing in UK waters.
  • The document says: “The Union and the Agreed Kingdom shall use their best endeavours to conclude and ratify ‘an contract’ on access to waters and fishing opportunities.”

Chris Morris’s analysis: Fishing is in any case a hot button issue, even though in most countries the fishing sector stamps a tiny part of the economy. Fishing has been left out of plans for a isolated customs territory because several countries objected to the idea that UK fish give rise to would be allowed unimpeded access to EU markets, without any corresponding undertake that EU boats would be granted access to UK fishing waters.

It’s an specimen of how negotiations on a temporary customs union were bound to throw up a troop of complications – and a reminder of how tough negotiations on a future trade agreement are probable to be.

Laws and disputes

  • The UK will remain under European Court of Fairness (ECJ) jurisdiction during the transition.
  • If the backstop is triggered and the UK forms a single practices territory with the EU, the ECJ will not be able to resolve disputes between the UK and EU.
  • As opposed to, there will be a dispute resolution procedure which provides for arbitration. In any case, if the dispute rests on the interpretation of EU law, the arbitration panel refers the case to the ECJ for a vexation decision.

Chris Morris’s analysis: Most of this draft concurrence deals with matters of EU law, so the European Court of Justice casts a great shadow. The arbitration system for resolving disputes creates a semblance of self-reliance and ECJ rulings will no longer have direct effect in the UK once change is over.

That is an important point of principle for the UK government, but the European Court purpose continue to have indirect influence over the UK for many years to succeed.

What else is in it?

  • Elsewhere in the agreement there are protocols on Gibraltar and the British military forms in Cyprus.
  • There’s a provision that the UK will withdraw from the European Atomic Vim Community (Euratom), which relates to how nuclear material is handled.
  • EU-approved geographic inklings, protecting approved names like “Welsh Lamb” or “Parma Ham” remainder.
  • Alongside the withdrawal agreement, there’s the outline of the political declaration, context out what the future UK/EU relationship might look like. It’s currently solely seven pages long but it’s being fleshed out in negotiations that are mollify continuing in the run-up to the EU’s Brexit summit on 25 November.

Read various from Reality Check

Send us your questions

Follow us on Titter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *