Children to be asked views on Brexit by Welsh Government

Sandcastle with Union flag and EU flag

Children and young people are to be asked their views on the process by which the UK leaves the EU, the Welsh Government has announced.

Children's minister Huw Irranca-Davies said Brexit would mean "some of the biggest changes in their adult lives".

He pledged to do "everything I can" to ensure concerns raised in the consultation were acted upon.

The Tories said it was a "desperate tactic", while Plaid Cymru called for the consultation must be "meaningful".

Views will be sought through schools and via young peoples' organisations.

Mr Irranca-Davies said: "The majority of the adult population of the UK who voted in the EU referendum in 2016 took a monumental decision that the UK should leave the EU.

"As a government, we accept that decision, and are doing all we can to ensure Wales and the rest of the UK gets the very best deal from it.

"However, our children are our future, so it's absolutely vital we ensure their views and concerns are listened to."

He said the Welsh Government had "led the way in ensuring children's rights are respected and upheld", under the principles of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

"As part of that, we are committed to ensuring we uphold the right of children to say what they think when adults are making decisions that affect them, and that they have their opinions taken into account."

Image caption,
Huw Irranca-Davies: "I'm very much looking forward to hearing their views"

The views of seven to 11-year-olds will be gathered in schools, with teachers or support staff present, ministers said.

Children and young people aged 11 and older will be contacted through the Young Wales network of local organisations.

There also plans to involve more than 600 children and young people using 25 workshops.

A report on the consultation, conducted by the umbrella body Children in Wales, is due to be completed in the autumn.

Children in Wales chief executive Catriona Williams said: "Our 'Young Wales' programme aims to increase the participation of children and young people in influencing the development of Welsh Government policies.

"We know from them that they are really keen to have their views heard at this critical time in relation to negotiations over Brexit as it will be their futures which will be particularly affected."

For the Conservatives, Brecon and Radnorshire MP Chris Davies was dismissive of the idea, saying: "It is utter nonsense and smacks of yet another desperate tactic by Welsh Labour, who seem to want to do anything rather than carry out the will of the Welsh people - who voted to leave the EU."

UKIP AM Gareth Bennett claimed it was "a part of a sinister plot by the left" and that the Welsh Government was trying to "brainwash" children.

Plaid Cymru AM Llyr Gruffydd said his party had previously called for young people to be represented on the Welsh Government's Brexit Advisory Group, saying: "They are the ones who will live longest with the consequences of leaving the EU."

He added: "For this initiative to be meaningful young people's opinions must be given weight. Otherwise it risks being nothing more than a gimmick or a tick-box exercise."

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