Brexit Secretary answers YOUR questions!

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Photo credit: Chris McAndrew

Steve Barclay is a Conservative Party politician, and is the Member of Parliament for North East Cambridgeshire. He is currently Secretary of State for Exiting the EU (Also know as 'Brexit Secretary').

Q) How did the EU became a thing? From rhetorical_black_bear, Michael Faraday School

A) What became the EU started off as a small number of countries wanting to trade coal and steel without barriers. The European Steel and Coal Community was formed in 1951 and with time developed into the European Economic Community - an economic club to make trade between European countries easier.

In 1992 European leaders met in Maastricht - a city in The Netherlands - and signed a treaty creating the EU. This expanded the EEC into something bigger, not just about trade and affecting more areas of day-to-day life.

This was not what the UK signed up to in 1973 and so the EU became increasingly unpopular with the public.

Q) How will it affect business people and retailers in the UK? From busy_song, Michael Faraday School

A) One of the best things about Brexit is that the UK will be able to sign trade deals with fast-growing and exciting markets around the world like China and Australia.

This means business people and retailers can go after new opportunities in these countries.

At the same time, the deal we have negotiated with the EU means that businesses in the UK will still be able to trade and do business with those in Europe they already have a relationship with.

Q) What would a hard border do to Britain and Ireland's relationship? From communicative_bird, Ravenscroft Primary School

A) The first thing to say is that nobody wants a hard border and we will do everything in our power to ensure we do not get one - first and foremost by securing a deal.

The Good Friday Agreement signed in 1997 helped secure the peace process in Northern Ireland. Not having a hard border is an important part of protecting that, and both the UK and Irish government agree that they want to avoid a hard border.

Q) Do you think all us children will not be able to study in other countries? From faithful_meerkat, Churchill Gardens Primary Academy

A) Leaving the EU does not mean we are cutting ties with Europe. Educational and cultural links with Europe existed long before the EU was created and will continue after Brexit.

So there is no reason things like school exchange programmes or trips to other European countries won’t continue. And older students who want to go to study in Europe through Erasmus+ will still be able to under the deal agreed with the EU.

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