Brexit Briefing - Transition Period

We hope you enjoyed our last Brexit Bulletin. The UK finally left the EU last month, let us update you on the latest news. Sign up here to stay informed with regular updates.


The UK formally left the EU at 11:00 pm GMT on 31 January 2020.  On 23 January 2020 the UK ratified the Withdrawal Agreement. On 29 January 2020, the European Parliament voted for the Withdrawal Agreement by 621 to 49, with 13 abstaining. The news was met with some MEPs giving tearful speeches and other MEPs celebrating. The Withdrawal Agreement then went to the European Council, by email, where all member states confirmed their agreement. This concluded the ratification process.

Transition Period

On 1 February 2020 the UK entered an implementation period, also known as a transition period, which will end on 31 December 2020. Little will change during this time as the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 retains EU law in the UK and free movement will continue. The UK is no longer a member of the EU and will not participate in EU institutions but for the most part will be treated as a member state. During the transition period, the EU and UK will work to negotiate a trade agreement, taking into account the Political Declaration. It remains to be seen if this will be possible in the time frame available.

UK: Open for Business

While of the first stage of the Brexit process is complete, the trade negotiations have well and truly started. Recent progress into trade include:

  • The US has confirmed that the UK is “at the top of the list” for a trade agreement.
  • Japan and the UK are expected to start trade talks in the Spring. Auto tariffs are likely to be at the topic of the agenda.
  • The Department for International Trade are launching two new digital trading tools to help businesses with up to date information on trade with more than 160 countries.
  • The government has started advising VAT registered businesses on how to prepare for changes to custom arrangements after the transitional period.
  • Brexit Secretary, Stephen Barclay, has confirmed that the government are looking for a zero tariff free trade deal with the EU.


The content of this page is a summary of the law in force at the date of publication and is not exhaustive, nor does it contain definitive advice. Specialist legal advice should be sought in relation to any queries that may arise.