After two years of negotiations, a draft withdrawal agreement between the UK and the EU was published on Wednesday (14 November).
The 585-page Brexit Withdrawal Agreement sets out the terms of the UK’s departure from the EU on 29 March, 2019.
The agreement will need approval by the other 27 EU member states for a vote (25 November) before coming to the UK parliament in December.
But prime minister Theresa May faces a big struggle to get the agreement approved at home amid widespread disapproval from opposition MPs and Brexiteer MPs in her own Conservative Party.
In terms of farming, the withdrawal agreement would see the UK leave the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) and be free to design its own domestic agricultural policy.
The agreement also paves the way for a 21-month transition period that would maintain free and frictionless trade with the EU and avoid trade tariffs being applied to UK goods under a “no-deal” scenario.
During this time, the UK would continue to follow all European Union rules while both sides try to work out a longer-term arrangements, including a trade deal.
NI ‘backstop’ provision
The plan ensures minimal disruption to the long-standing trading relationship between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
However, the Northern Irish unionist party, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which is supporting Mrs May’s minority government, has raised serious concerns about a provision in the draft deal.
This “backstop” could see Northern Ireland stay closely aligned to EU rules and remain part of the single market, with checks on some goods coming in from the UK, “unless and until” a new UK-EU trade deal is negotiated after Brexit.