RTÉ's Paul Cunningham was asked to explain Brexit to children for RTÉ's news2day. However, his concise explanation of the issues in simple terms has found a much wider audience on social media - and it's not just children tuning in.

Here's the piece that's generating all the buzz:

What is Brexit?

The word Brexit means that Britain is leaving, or exiting, the European Union.

The British people voted in favour of leaving the EU in June 2016.

But the date Britain will actually leave the EU is March 2019.

Both the British and the EU are now trying to agree on what kind of relationship they will have after Brexit.

Single Market

The EU has a Single Market – this means stuff made in Ireland can travel around the EU without any checks or regulations.

Britain still wants to be part of that after Brexit.

If Britain chose a deal like Norway, it would be outside the EU, but still able to use the Single Market.

But it would mean that people as well as goods could travel freely across borders – and Britain doesn’t like that.

If Britain chose a deal like Switzerland, it could still use the Single Market – but it would have to obey the same trade rules as the EU, and Britain doesn’t like that.

Britain wouldn’t have the problem with rules, courts and people, if it had a trade deal like Canada.

But it would only have limited use of the Single Market – and Britain wants more than that.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has another idea. Her plan is known as Chequers.

She wants a better deal than Canada, but without as many rules.

However, last week in Salzburg in Austria, the EU told her this Chequers plan will not work.


The Irish Government is worried about what’s going to happen between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

They want a backstop: an unbreakable agreement that there will never be a physical border in Ireland, whether there’s a deal or not.

When you cross the border today, no one stops you to ask for your passport or to look in your car or any trucks.

Both the Irish and British governments say they want this to remain, even after Brexit next year.

However, if Britain wants a deal like Canada, then the EU will want to know what stuff is crossing the border.

Both sides are trying to work out how to do that without having to do checks at the border.

Both sides agree there should be a backstop – but they can’t agree how it will work.

If they get that sorted, they’ll have longer to work out a trade deal.

But they only have a few weeks to sort out the backstop.

The clock is ticking.