Theresa May’s Brexit Deal

How Theresa May’s Brexit Deal Impacts Northern Ireland’s Relations With The UK, EU, & Its Irish Neighbors

Northern Ireland's Isolation has added much trepidation to Brexit Negotiations

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This week, British Prime Minister Theresa May announced the Withdrawal Agreement, a plan outlining the United Kingdom's legal departure from the European Union (i.e. the process of Brexit). However, aside from extremely controversial provisions, such as the terms of post-Brexit transition period between the UK and the EU, which has led to multiple members of May's cabinet resigning in protest, there is specifically one point of contention which may threaten the very territorial harmony of the UK.

This concerns the relations that the UK's Northern Ireland has with its southwestern neighbor, the Republic of Ireland. Since Republic of Ireland is planning to remain in the EU, if Northern Ireland leaves the EU along with the rest of the UK, it may be forced to implement a "hard border" with its neighbor due to its now different, non-EU, commercial and customs policies.

In order to avoid a large division on the Irish island, which could impel Irish nationalists to resume attacks similar to those of The Troubles period (where hundreds were killed by terrorist attacks carried out by nationalists seeking to unite the whole of the island under Irish rule during much of the latter half of the 20th century), Prime Minister May has decreed that Northern Ireland "will continue to abide by all of the EU's trading rules." However, this will only lead to a new set of pressing concerns for the political parties of Northern Ireland, as they, especially the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), are now openly opposing May's Brexit agreement because they do not want abide by the "customs backstop" and be in "EU customs territory" since this would lead to the economic isolation of Northern Ireland from the rest of the post-Brexit UK. In order to win back the support of the DUP and, by extension, a vital parliamentary voting bloc needed to pass the Withdrawal Agreement, Theresa May must find a way to ensure the UK citizens of Northern of their long-term economic security.

In order to understand how the political actors of Northern Ireland can be convinced that the Withdrawal Agreement upholds their interests, the implications of the customs backstop must first be considered. If the UK leaves the EU, it could very well slap tariffs on commerce with polities still involved in the EU.

Since Northern Ireland would continue to have EU commerce policies, a "tariff and regulatory border" would severely harm many businesses in Northern Ireland that conduct commerce with other UK territories, since about Northern Ireland currently exports around £15 billion worth of goods to the rest of the UK, which amounts to nearly 20% of all Northern Irish exports. The economic risk is so great that some unionists (people in favor of Northern Ireland being as big a part of the UK as possible) believe that this customs problem could "jettison Northern Ireland as an equal partner for the sake of greater freedom for Great Britain." In other words, the economic well being of many in Northern Ireland could be sacrificed in order to create a satisfying Brexit deal for the rest of the UK, an agreement that Northern Ireland's politicians are naturally outraged about.

Despite such setbacks, May's government is making some strides towards securing the necessary support needed to pass the Withdrawal Agreement, customs backstop and all. After conducting Theresa May personally met with Northern Irish business organizations at Downing Street, some of them, such as the Confederacy of British Industry (CBI), have chosen to throw their support behind May's Brexit deal, largely in order to avoid the prospect of a Brexit without any concrete agreement, which could make it difficult for Northern Irish businesses to obtain substantive investment from both the EU and the UK.

While May's current attempts to "provide the reassurance that I know is so important to [businesses]" seems scant, it appears to be having an impact. The Ulster Farmers' Union, another prominent Northern Irish business group, directly urged the DUP to reverse its current sentiments and back May's deal. Protests from businesses and their organizations may put political pressure on the DUP in their own regional political stronghold and make them more likely to support the withdrawal agreement. However, the situation remains ugly, as the DUP is "critical of business organisations" that support May's Brexit Deal. There is currently no vote scheduled for the Withdrawal agreement, so much remains to be seen as to whether or not Northern Ireland will fare well in the ongoing Brexit international crisis.

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.

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Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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Saying You "Don't Take Political Stances" IS A Political Stance

All you're doing by saying this is revealing your privilege to not care politically, and here's why that's a problem.

bethkrat
bethkrat
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I'm sure all of us know at least one person who refuses to engage in political discussions - sure, you can make the argument that there is a time and a place to bring up the political happenings of our world today, but you can't possibly ignore it all the time. You bring up the last ridiculous tweet our president sent or you try to discuss your feelings on the new reproductive regulation bills that are rising throughout the states, and they find any excuse to dip out as quickly as possible. They say I don't talk about politics, or I'm apolitical. Well everyone, I'm here to tell you why that's complete bullsh*t.

Many people don't have the luxury and privilege of ignoring the political climate and sitting complacent while terrible things happen in our country. So many issues remain a constant battle for so many, be it the systematic racism that persists in nearly every aspect of our society, the fact that Flint still doesn't have clean water, the thousands of children that have been killed due to gun violence, those drowning in debt from unreasonable medical bills, kids fighting for their rights as citizens while their families are deported and separated from them... you get the point. So many people have to fight every single day because they don't have any other choice. If you have the ability to say that you just don't want to have anything to do with politics, it's because you aren't affected by any failing systems. You have a privilege and it is important to recognize it.

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "history will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people."

We recognize that bad people exist in this world, and we recognize that they bring forth the systems that fail so many people every single day, but what is even more important to recognize are the silent majority - the people who, by engaging in neutrality, enable and purvey the side of the oppressors by doing nothing for their brothers and sisters on the front lines.

Maybe we think being neutral and not causing conflict is supposed to be about peacekeeping and in some way benefits the political discussion if we don't try to argue. But if we don't call out those who purvey failing systems, even if it's our best friend who says something homophobic, even if it's our representatives who support bills like the abortion ban in Alabama, even if it's our president who denies the fact that climate change is killing our planet faster than we can hope to reverse it, do we not, in essence, by all accounts of technicality side with those pushing the issues forward? If we let our best friend get away with saying something homophobic, will he ever start to change his ways, or will he ever be forced to realize that what he's said isn't something that we can just brush aside? If we let our representatives get away with ratifying abortion bans, how far will the laws go until women have no safe and reasonable control over their own bodily decisions? If we let our president continue to deny climate change, will we not lose our ability to live on this planet by choosing to do nothing?

We cannot pander to people who think that being neutral in times of injustice is a reasonable stance to take. We cannot have sympathy for people who decide they don't want to care about the political climate we're in today. Your attempts at avoiding conflict only make the conflict worse - your silence in this aspect is deafening. You've given ammunition for the oppressors who take your silence and apathy and continue to carry forth their oppression. If you want to be a good person, you need to suck it up and take a stand, or else nothing is going to change. We need to raise the voices of those who struggle to be heard by giving them the support they need to succeed against the opposition.

With all this in mind, just remember for the next time someone tells you that they're apolitical: you know exactly which side they're on.

bethkrat
bethkrat

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