Ahead of the Round 8 talks the Prime Minister issued a Statement in which he stated - "There needs to be an agreement with our European friends by the time of the European Council on 15 October if it’s going to be in force by the end of the year. So there is no sense in thinking about timelines that go beyond that point. If we can’t agree by then, then I do not see that there will be a free trade agreement between us, and we should both accept that and move on."
The UK left the EU
on 31 January and operates, until the end of 2020, in the transition period which has undoubtedly covered over the likely economic impact from January 2021 if there is no free trade and other arrangements. Greater time for negotiation was available by way of extending the transition period and to do so would have made good sense but the Johnson government opted not to request an extension.
The UK's departure from EU membership is governed by an international treaty - referred to as the Withdrawal Agreement (WA). A part of the WA is the Northern Ireland Protocol. There is also a Political Declaration but that, unlike the WA, is not binding in international law.
Speaking in the House of Commons today (8 September) Mr Brandon Lewis MP (Secretary of State for Northern Ireland) stated that a UK Internal Market Bill will be published on 9 September.
The 8 September debate was concerned with the UK's legal obligations under the Northern Ireland Protocol. The full debate is available at Hansard House of Commons 8 September 2020
Concern arose during the debate that the UK was intending to bring forward a Bill which, if enacted into domestic law, would breach the WA or Northern Ireland Protocol. Here are two of the exchanges:
Ministers are required by the Ministerial Code which refers to the overarching duty on Ministers to comply with the law. The Code was amended in 2015 and a specific reference to international law was removed but is has been generally assumed that the word "law" includes international law binding on the UK - Post 23 October 2015. In R (Gulf Centre for Human Rights) v Prime Minister  EWCA Civ 1855 it was confirmed that no substantive change was intended when the code was amended.