Michael Gove, one of Prime Minister Boris Johnson`s most senior ministers, announced an “agreement in principle on all issues, including the Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland.” This is essential to achieving the goal of keeping the Irish border as open as it is today, which was the fundamental intention of the Irish backstop – the protocol of Theresa May`s initial withdrawal agreement, which replaces that agreement. But if they do not reach an agreement before the end of the transition period, on December 31, 2020, and if there is no free trade agreement, some of this new bill could come into play. Michel Barnier, the EU`s chief negotiator, has announced that he will “find solutions” for the UK and Ireland to deal with threats to Irish trade relations, the common travel area and the Good Friday agreement.  Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney denied British media reports that Ireland expected the effective border to become the Irish Sea and said that “British officials were obliged to find an imaginative solution, but [the Irish government] would not support a proposal for a brutal return of the border with Ireland.”  After Brexit, the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland became an external border of the EU.  In theory, a “hard” border could return, both with fewer and monitored border crossing points, to support the necessary customs infrastructure.  Both the EU and UK negotiating teams have made it clear that this result will not be acceptable in any final withdrawal agreement.   Under an agreement called the Northern Ireland Protocol, goods should not be checked along the Irish border when the new uk-EU relationship begins on 1 January. How does it work? The withdrawal agreement stipulates that Northern Ireland should have “unrestricted market access” to the rest of the UK, and it says the implementation of the protocol should be “constantly reviewed.” Complex negotiations were concluded in October 2019 with a withdrawal agreement and a political declaration paving the way for an ordered withdrawal on 31 January 2020.