#Brexit seen by a 12-year-old
‘precise, vital, politically neutral questions for MPs to consider urgently’ written in the voice of a 12-year-old
What if, instead of writing a thank you card for a birthday gift, she were writing this:
You should never cancel anything without having a plan. That was stupid. Why did you do it?
You should never ask people “do you want to cancel this?” if you’re not ready with a plan in case enough people say, Yes. But you did this. Why?
Here are the questions I’m waiting for leaders to answer.
If a plan is to be any good at all, it must have answers to these questions and a bunch of other questions I haven’t thought of.
I’ve divided my questions into the past and the future.
The third section is about taking responsibility. I’ll have to explain what that means, since grownups clearly don’t get it.
1. How will dishonesty in campaigns for public votes be prevented in the future?
2. Not everyone who was invited to vote did vote. Not every UK citizen who wanted to vote was allowed to. Why are the results being treated as a final decision?
3. The Northern Ireland peace agreement in 1998 takes EU membership as a given and it doesn’t make sense without it. Why did no one think about the century of struggle and strife and killing in Ireland related to British rule before they proposed the Referendum?
4. Scotland has such a close vote on its very own referendum vote just two years ago. Doesn’t this referendum so soon make it easier for Scotland to leave? Did you want Scotland to leave, was that the idea?
5. Why didn’t the EU Referendum process demand the same level of planning from the “Leavers” as was demanded from Scotland’s independence party? How is that fair? Or wise?
1. How will peace in Ireland be maintained? Northern Ireland did not vote to Leave the EU.
2. Is the Government or the Parliament really allowed to strip UK citizens of their EU citizenship? Why? I was granted it at birth and I haven’t done anything wrong. Why do you get to take it away?
3. Which court will hear cases brought by UK nationals like me who want to retain our individual EU citizenship?
4. When will the government pass a law protecting EU citizens who reside in the UK?
6. How will the funding from the EU for British communities be replaced?
7. How will the funding for scientific research from the EU be replaced?
8. Will scientists from other countries still want to collaborate with scientists in Britain?
9. Will our healthcare suffer if doctors and nurses from Europe won’t come here to work and if medical improvements aren’t shared?
10. Will patents and trademarks still be protected under the European-wide system? How will inventors in Britain protect their ideas and inventions?
11. How well will policing and anti-terrorism work if our country is outside the EU? Will we still be safe?
12. How well will our environment, our air and the seas and oceans that surround us be protected, if we are outside the EU?
13. Will you make me any safer, any healthier, any more secure, any more optimistic about my education or work opportunities if the UK is out of the EU? If not, why are you proposing to do so?
14. Where will the budget come from, to pay for all the work it will take to make all the laws and treaties that will need to be written? What services will suffer as a result? Who will pay?
We kids are taught all the time that we need to own up to our mistakes, own up to the consequences when we forget stuff or when we don’t try hard enough or we mess up.
I don’t think becoming a grown up means that being responsible ends. I’m really sick of grownups acting like there’s one set of rules for kids, and another for them.
It’s not all grownups. I don’t think the grownups I trust — to love me and look after me at home, to teach me at school, to look after me when I get hurt or sick, to transport me safely when I step on a bus, a tube train or an airplane — I don’t think those grownups think they get to stop being responsible just because they grew up. If people are saying “I’m not responsible because I was just doing my job” they’re lying or they’re stupid.
I have 13 questions about responsibility.
You decide if 13 is a baker’s dozen or bad luck.
1. Why is the Government allowed to ask for a Referendum where one result of the two offered could undermine such the agreement that brought peace to Ireland? Who should have stopped them but didn’t?
2. Since Parliament’s role is to protect and advance the nation’s interests, how is proposing a Referendum that weakens or breaks peace in Ireland a responsible thing to do?
3. Were the decision-makers who made the law setting the referendum acting wisely or unwisely? If not, how will they take responsibility for their mistakes?
4. When the rights of EU citizens who reside in the UK was discussed in Parliament on 6 July, why did 322 MPs from the Conservative Party think it was OK to stay away?
5. Why should I trust you if you can’t promise right now that one of my parents from Europe or one of my friends’ parents from Europe is allowed to stay together with their family?
6. Why did you allow advertising you knew to contain lies to be broadcast?
7. Why did the leader of the party campaigning to Leave say that “not a bullet had been fired” when Jo Cox, MP had been murdered during the campaign?
8. How will the government make it clear that racism and racists attacks are not tolerated in Britain? How will the people and newspapers that stirred up the racism be punished or stopped?
9. Since the results were announced our money is worth less outside our country and its value is continuing to fall; banks outside our country don’t want to lend to us; 700,000 available jobs have disappeared since the two weeks since the result was announced.
This didn’t happen because of a hurricane, a volcano or a war.
It happened when the world heard about the results of a question you asked, that you didn’t need to ask in the way you asked it. How is the damage you’ve done going to be repaired?
10. What will you do to help, when business start closing or jobs are cut because everything is so uncertain?
11. As Members of Parliament it is your duty to act in the nation’s interests. Are you sure you’re doing this, with each decision? If you can’t act with the whole nation’s interest in mind, each and every time, when will you quit?
12. Acting with conscience means you have to think things through.
Just like I’m supposed to think for myself when I’m out with my friends. Just because someone suggests something or does something doesn’t mean it’s right. My mom expects me to do the sensible thing, the kind thing regardless of what others are doing. So why don’t you hold yourself to the same standard?
When will you start thinking through things instead of just doing what the Party Whips tell you to do?
13. Acting now with independent conscience requires courage. Do you have the courage to lead us out of this mess? If not, when will you quit?
(c) 2016. All rights reserved.
Use, adapt, improve but please credit.
For a longer version, please read Open Letter to MPs about the responsibility and limits of Parliament (11-min read here on Medium).
Readers of the long-form Open Letter have tweeted:
‘glad to share your well-considered points/letter’
‘precise, vital, politically neutral questions for MPs to consider urgently’
‘brave, thoughtful questions’
‘worth reading, IMO’
‘it is a great letter, and interesting to read. Thank you for writing it.’
‘truly inspired by your most thoughtful and well structured article’
‘you are asking the right, important and essential questions’
‘I saw your letter online yesterday. It does throw up some points that I don’t think many have considered. Defin worth a read.’
‘#Brexit best 11 minutes you’ll invest since’
The longer version includes references to the sources by which the questions were formed.