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Young people invited to quiz MPs on what Brexit means for their futuresSeptember 19th, 2016
A sixth former, who cried when Britain’s decision to leave the EU was announced, is giving teenagers a chance to quiz MPs on what it will mean for them.
Beth, a pupil at Haberdashers’ Monmouth School for Girls, formed a local youth parliament during the summer holidays to open up lines of political discussion among young people.
Its first free public event, which Conservative MP David Davies and Monmouth Labour Party member, Catherine Fookes, are set to speak at, takes place at the Shire Hall on Friday, September 23, from 5.30pm to 6.30pm and is open to everyone under 18-years-old.
And comedians Marcus Brigstocke and Russell Howard, who are performing at the town’s Savoy Theatre later this year, have said they might make an appearance on the night.
Beth, 17, said: “I emailed Marcus Brigstocke and Russell Howard to invite them – it would be fantastic if they came because it would engage so many young people.
“It would also make politics a lot more accessible; it’s not about politicians talking, it’s about people sharing ideas.”
The inspirational pupil, who is hoping to read English literature at Cambridge and carve a career as a political reporter, started the Monmouthshire Youth Parliament with help from Year 11 Monmouth School boy, Jack.
She added: “I cried when I woke up to the news Britain was leaving the EU – I was in shock.
“I felt like my values had been undermined, which sounds ridiculous. But the referendum was almost a battle of values and now prospects could reduce, for me and for the country.
“I felt like society was indifferent to the opinions of young people, and my brother’s friend Jack felt the same. He wanted to address the indifference and I thought the lack of engagement with young people was disgusting.
“It’s our future and we need our voice to be heard.”
Beth now has pupils from seven different schools across the county involved in the youth parliament.
“We set up a committee so we could spread the responsibility,” she added.
“We wanted to link the schools in the area because there’s no way for them to debate at the moment.
“The response was very positive from the pupils I contacted; they’re very excited about it.
“I emailed Councillor Liz Hacket Pain, who is the Cabinet Member for Schools and Learning, and she thought the event was a great idea. She said there’s nothing like this where students can meet politicians and debate, and helped us secure a sponsor so we could use the Shire Hall. It’s a good, neutral space.”
Beth, who is a member of The Labour Party, goes to meetings regularly.
“I’m a member so that I have a say in my life,” she continued.
“It’s how you live, not just what you see on TV. I want a say in how the country is run.
“I did work experience, shadowing Monmouth Conservative MP, David Davies, in Parliament.
“I was surprised at how many conflicts there were within the parties. After that experience, I decided I would rather be a political journalist than a politician.
“David Davies campaigned to leave the EU, and he will talk about how we are ‘taking back control’ at the debate.”