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 agreement was revised as part of the Johnson Department renegotiation in 2019. The amendments amend about 5% of the text On the irish border issue, there is a protocol on Northern Ireland (the “backstop”) which is attached to the agreement and establishes a position of withdrawal that will only come into force if effective alternative arrangements are not demonstrated before the transition period expires. 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.  However, even if a free trade agreement is concluded before the end of the transitional period, its scope should be limited and provide very little, if at all, for the harmonization of regulatory standards, the removal of non-tariff barriers or trade in services with the EU. This may mean that companies still need to make significant adjustments to comply with the new regime. The immediate effects of a “non-trade agreement” of Brexit will, in some respects, be better coordinated than a “non-Brexit deal” would have been. This is because the VA contains continuity provisions in the implementation of ongoing procedures at the end of the transitional period.
For example, after the end of the transition period, mergers with a British dimension notified to the EU but not authorised by the EU, or competition procedures initiated by the EU but not completed before the end of the transition period, are defined by the EU until their conclusion, instead of having to repeat to the British authorities, as would have been the case if the VA had not been ratified. After the WAB becomes law, the withdrawal agreement must also be ratified by the European Parliament. The reception of the agreement in the House of Commons ranged from cold to hostile, and the vote was delayed by more than a month. Prime Minister May has received a motion of no confidence within her own party, but the EU has refused to accept further changes. The 2019 revisions also adapted elements of the political declaration and replaced the word “appropriate” with “appropriate” with respect to labour standards. According to Sam Lowe, a trade fellow at the Centre for European Reform, the amendment excludes labour standards from dispute resolution mechanisms.  In addition, the Equal Competition Mechanism has been postponed from the legally binding withdrawal agreement to the political declaration, and the line of the political statement that “the United Kingdom will consider taking into account alignment with trade union rules in the relevant areas” has been removed.  Due to delays in the UK`s withdrawal from the EU, there will be only 11 months left between the day of the withdrawal and the end of the transition period, unless both parties agree to an extension before 1 July, which would result in a significant change in UK government policy within a relatively short period of time.