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The Maastricht Diplomat

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Worrisome Week for Washington & Westminster

Dear friends,

Try saying that headline five times in a row.

The Maastricht Diplomat has changed its coverage of the week’s news stories a bit. Visit the MD weekly to read our Sunday Summary column where our writers give their personal take on recent events and contribute to Maastricht’s debate culture! Join the discussion in the comments.

It seems like every week gives Brexit another whirl down the spiral towards societal division, diplomatic frustration and economic uncertainty. Last week was a milestone towards whatever the outcome of this historical debacle will be. But while significant, the rejection of Theresa May’s Brexit deal on the 15th January seemed to have not made things clearer.

The House of Commons rejected the vote with more than double the votes of its proponents. International press was uniform in calling it Theresa May’s biggest political defeat yet. You can read all about how we arrived at this point in our last article. Now what?

A no-deal scenario has increased in likelihood, but is by no means the only option on the table. Some hardcore Brexiteers would be fine with that, but its potential repercussions would be immense. For one, it would result in a hard border across the Irish island, between Northern Ireland – a part of the UK – and Ireland, which is a member of the EU. Some commentators could see the Irish civil conflict reheat; after all, the Good Friday agreement that put an end to long-lasting violence during the 20th century and established free movement between the North and South, is only a good 20 years old. These wounds are far from having healed completely, something not to be taken lightly. Also, remember that the governing party of Northern Ireland, the DUP, kept the Conservative Party of Theresa May in the government after the last elections and has threatened to withdraw from the governing coalition should a hard Irish border re-emerge.

A video of a British citizen, dubbed the “Yellow Jacket Lady”, went viral lately for going off about the state of Brexit and Theresa May. Remember Ken Bone during the American elections? Something like that.

The Yellow Jacket Lady (unrelated to France’s protests)

“The government can’t figure out what the will of the people is in 2019.”, she concludes. That seems to be entirely true. Vocal prominent European Parliamentarian Guy Verhofstadt has called for cross-party cooperation so that the EU could re-approach the UK with a constructive attitude and that the British public knows that their elected government is taking all considerations into account.

So far, there are political obstacles to this. Labour-leader Jeremy Corbyn has said he’d be willing to cooperate, provided May distanced herself from a no-deal scenario, something she has refused to rule out. Labour is further widely criticised for failing to capitalise on Brexit and kick the Tories out of office. However, those critics fail to remember British Socialism’s historic lack of love for the EU. It was the Conservatives that brought the UK into the EU in 1975 under Ted Heath. But hardcore socialists always saw the EU as a vessel for free-trade, economic libertarianism, classism and democratic deficiencies. To be fair, these are not entirely untrue accusations, and Corbyn, who is known to venture towards the extremes of economic socialism, was initially more than reluctant to voice EU-support. It was only when Labour claimed the progressive, socially liberal, but economically neoliberal voter demographic of London and other major cities, that this faded. Now, the political capital to be gained from supporting the Union apparently smells too tasty to be left behind.

A no-deal scenario is not the most likely way ahead – yet. But listening to the Yellow Jacket Lady and Guy Verhofstadt, perhaps a second referendum will turn out to be the best course in the end? Personally, I empathise with people who are fed up with Brexit news. So, let’s all just get this over with. The primary victims of this political circus are British citizens; Remainers and Brexiteers alike. And let’s not forget the fate of British students in Maastricht, who had to take first bureaucratic steps regarding their stay. On Thursday, they were sent a letter from the municipality stating that they will keep their rights for now, so there’s that at least.

In other news, the American government is still in Shutdown. Donald Trump is set to hold a major speech regarding his favourite domestic pet-project, so keep an eye out for that, if you feel like listening to the ramblings of an infantile orange. More hilariously, he served Football players visiting the White House some good-old American fast-food from McDonalds, Burger King and Wendy’s on silver plates, since the White House staff was out of service during the Shutdown. The American public was more active and gripped in outcry over yet another viral video. Teenage boys wearing Make-America-Great-Again hats were taunting and harassing a Native-American Elder, and according to him, shouting “Build that wall!”, referring to the aforementioned project of Trump. Check the video out here. All due criticism of outrage-culture and scandalism aside, the smug grin on that boy’s face is chillingly aggravating. Here’s some points from Twitter and social media in general that are worth discussing and the internet lost its mind over:

Do you agree?

This answer refers to a Gillette razors ad, that sparked much debate in the net. See below

Last week was definitely one up for discussion and controversy. Leave your thoughts below!

Until then, much love,

Simon from the Maastricht Diplomat


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