The EU and the UK have reached an agreement on the withdrawal agreement with a revised protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland (abolition of the «backstop») and a revised political declaration. On the same day, the European Council (Article 50) approved these texts. The new political declaration sets out the framework for future relations between the European Union and the United Kingdom and reflects the Government`s desire to conclude an ambitious, comprehensive, deep and flexible partnership on trade and economic cooperation with the EU, with a free trade agreement with the EU, in addition to security agreements and other areas of cooperation. The recently published draft British Treaty and the subsequent exchange of letters between the UK`s chief negotiator david Frost and his European counterpart Michel Barnier underline the distance between the two negotiating pages (Mr Frost`s letter is available here, Mr Barnier`s answer is available here). It was signed «assuming that further agreements could be reached to clarify these aspects,» the spokesman added. 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 2019 revisions also adapted elements of the political statement that 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.  The Northern Ireland Protocol, known as the Irish Backstop, was an annex to the November 2018 draft agreement outlining provisions to avoid a hard border in Ireland after the UK`s withdrawal from the European Union.
The protocol provided for a provision of the safety net to deal with the circumstances in which satisfactory alternative arrangements were to come into force at the end of the transition period. This project has been replaced by a new protocol that will be described as follows. After an unprecedented vote on 4 December 2018, MEPs ruled that the UK government was not respecting Parliament because it refused to give Parliament full legal advice on the consequences of its proposed withdrawal terms.  The focus of the consultation was on the legal effect of the «backstop» agreement for Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom with regard to the CUSTOMS border between the EU and the United Kingdom and its impact on the Good Friday agreement that led to the end of the unrest in Northern Ireland, including whether , according to the proposals, the UK would be certain that it would be able to leave the EU in a practical sense.