Brexit withdrawal agreement

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The Brexit withdrawal agreement (officially: The draft Agreement on the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union) was a proposed agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union on how Brexit would be implemented. Published on 14 November 2018, it was a result of the Brexit negotiations. The agreement had been endorsed by the leaders of the 27 remaining EU countries[1] and the UK Government led by Prime Minister Theresa May, but faced opposition in the UK parliament, whose approval was necessary for ratification. On 10 December 2018, May deferred the vote scheduled on 11 December, because she thought it "would be rejected by a significant margin".[2] On 15 January 2019, the House of Commons rejected the withdrawal agreement by a vote of 432 to 202.[3]

Closely related to the withdrawal agreement is a political declaration on the future relationship between UK and EU, which is still being negotiated.


The agreement sets up a transitional period, which lasts until 31 December 2020, but can be extended once by mutual consent. During the transitional period, UK will remain a member of the Europe Economic Area, the single market, and the customs union, EU laws will continue to apply to UK, UK will continue to pay into the budget. However, UK will not be represented in the decision-making bodies of the EU. The transition period will give businesses time to adjust to the new situation, and time to negotiate a new trade deal between the EU and UK.[4][5]

On the Irish border question, the agreement sets a backstop which will come into force, in the case that there is not new agreement between EU and UK before the end of the transition period. In that case, UK will remain in a customs union with the EU. Neither party can unilaterally withdraw from this customs union. The goal of this backstop agreement is to avoid a "hard" Irish border, where customs checks are necessary.[6]

The withdrawal agreement also includes provisions for the UK to leave the Convention Defining the Statute of the European Schools, with the UK bound by the Convention and the accompanying regulations on Accredited European Schools until the end of the last academic year of the transition period.[7]


The reception to the agreement ranged from cool to downright hostile and the vote was delayed more than a month. Prime Minister May won a no confidence motion in her own party, but the EU refused to accept any further changes.

UK government resignations[edit]

On 15 November 2018, the day after the agreement was presented and received backing from the cabinet of the UK government, several members of the government resigned, including Dominic Raab, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.[8]


On January 15, 2019, Parliament voted down May's deal by 230 votes,[3] the largest vote against the United Kingdom government in history.[9] The May government survived a confidence vote the following day.[3]


  1. ^ Kesbeh, Dina (November 25, 2018). "European Union Leaders Approve Brexit Plan". National Public Radio. Retrieved December 16, 2018.
  2. ^ "May calls off MPs' vote on her Brexit deal". BBC News. 2018-12-10. Retrieved 2018-12-16.
  3. ^ a b c Stewart, Heather (15 January 2019). "Theresa May loses Brexit deal vote by majority of 230". The Guardian.
  4. ^ Rankin, Jennifer (2018-11-18). "Brexit transition could be extended to 2022, says Barnier". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-11-26.
  5. ^ BBC News (2018-11-19), Brexit: The transition period explained - BBC News, retrieved 2018-11-26
  6. ^ Henley, Jon (2018-11-14). "Brexit deal: key points from the draft withdrawal agreement". the Guardian. Retrieved 2018-11-26.
  7. ^ "Europa School: 10 Jan 2019: House of Commons debates". TheyWorkForYou. 10 January 2019. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
  8. ^ Bloom, Dan (2018-11-15). "Dominic Raab resigns as Brexit Secretary over Theresa May's Brexit deal". mirror. Retrieved 2018-11-26.
  9. ^ "PM's Brexit deal rejected by 230 votes". 2019-01-15. Retrieved 2019-01-15.