Brexit will happen from Jan 31 at 11pm, no matter whether Big Ben bongs or not. From that point, the United Kingdom will be legally outside of the European Union, but it may not feel much different from life as part of the club because it will be in a transition period for the rest of the year.
Here is everything you might want to know about how this period of Brexit limbo, officially known by the Government as an “implementation period”, will work.
How long is the transition period? Could it be extended?
The transition period was originally agreed with the expectation that it would come into force for a punctual Brexit from March 29 2019, lasting 21 months until the end of December 2020.
The Withdrawal Agreement stipulates that the UK and EU can decide by July to extend it in a “single decision” for up to one or two years, but Boris Johnson’s Government has banned itself from requesting such an extension under the legislation it is passing implementing the Brexit deal.
That does not stop it ever requesting such a delay, as ministers could always amend the legislation or secure parliamentary approval to go around it, but that would be monumentally politically embarrassing.