The EU 27 and the UK have agreed a new Brexit deal. The new protocol replaces the Irish backstop plan contained in Theresa May's deal and amends a number of other arrangements in relation to Northern Ireland. Much of the rest of May’s deal remains intact.
A key change in Johnson’s agreement is that it proposes an arrangement that would keep Northern Ireland in close alignment with the EU unless and until both the UK and EU agree to change that position.
Johnson’s deal proposes a new system of custom duty collection. Legally there will be a customs border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, however, in practice items would not be checked on that border. The checks would occur on what is effectively a customs border in the Irish Sea with goods being checked at "points of entry" in Northern Ireland.
In relation to the regulation of goods, Northern Ireland would maintain EU rules rather than UK rules. This removes the need for checks on goods including food and agricultural produce at the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, because both will be part of an "all-island regulatory zone".
Johnson’s agreement says that EU law on VAT will apply in Northern Ireland, but only on goods, not services. The deal also allows Northern Ireland to have different VAT rates to the rest of the UK.
The deal gives the Stormont Assembly a vote on the continuity of the new arrangements. The Assembly vote would not occur until four years after the end of the transition period. The transition period is due to run until at least the end of 2020. So the four-year period would run until at least the end of 2024. Johnson’s deal sets out a mechanism which seeks to encourage cross-community support in Northern Ireland. If the Assembly were to vote in favour of continuing the arrangement after 2024, with cross community support, then the arrangement will be extended by up to eight years before another vote would be required.