Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit full report: launch events

The full report of the Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit was launched last week with well-attended events in parliament and at UCL. Speakers included members of the project team, two Assembly members, an MP and leading EU experts. Hannah Dowling and Kelly Shuttleworth report on what was said.

The Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit gathered together 50 members of the public, who were broadly representative of the UK population in terms of age, sex, ethnicity, social class, where they lived, and how they voted in last year’s referendum. They met over two weekends in September to deliberate on what kind of Brexit they wanted to see.

On 13 December, events were held in parliament and at UCL to launch the Assembly’s full report and to discuss the recommendations the Assembly reached. At both events Dr Alan Renwick, the Director of the Assembly, gave a quick introduction to what the Citizens’ Assembly entailed, outlining the two key aims of the project. These were, firstly, to provide evidence on informed and considered public opinion on the form that Brexit should take, and secondly, to gather evidence on the value of deliberative processes in the UK.

The Assembly members considered two key aspects of the future UK–EU relationship: trade and migration. The majority of members of the Assembly wanted to pursue a close, bespoke relationship with the EU. If such an agreement proved impossible, the majority of members preferred the option of the UK staying in the Single Market and the Customs Union rather than leaving the EU with no deal on future relations. This is a significant recommendation considering the current rhetoric from some Brexit supporters on the possibility of no deal.

Present to speak about the Assembly from different perspectives were Sarah Allan, Suella Fernandes MP, Professor Anand Menon, Professor Catherine Barnard and two members of the Assembly.

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Experts take centre stage at UCL EU referendum debate

Oliver_Patel

On Thursday 16 June the Constitution Unit hosted the last in a series of events relating to the referendum on the UK’s EU membership. The murder of Jo Cox and subsequent suspension of referendum campaigning meant that the planned format had to be changed, with an expert panel rather than politicians taking centre stage. Despite this around 600 people attended and contributed greatly to a lively discussion that covered a very wide range of topics relating to the referendum. Oliver Patel reports.

Over the past few months, the Constitution Unit has hosted a series of seminars and published a number of briefing papers on the constitutional consequences of Brexit. We have organised these jointly with the UCL European Institute and UCL School of Public Policy, with funding from the UK in a Changing Europe initiative based at King’s College London.  As part of the series, we gathered a range of experts to discuss the potential impact of Brexit on Whitehall and Westminster, the devolved nations and the rest of the EU. All of our videos and briefing papers can be found here. Thursday 16 June marked the end of this series as we held our largest event to date: The UCL EU Referendum Debate.

Following the tragic murder of Jo Cox and the subsequent suspension of activity by both the Leave and the Remain campaigns, we changed the event’s format. We had planned a debate among politicians, with a panel of academic experts ‘fact-checking’ their claims. This changed on the night to a ‘Meet the Experts Q&A’, with the academics taking centre stage. Around 600 people attended, and many had the chance to put referendum-related questions to the panel.

The panellists were Dr Swati Dhingra (Lecturer in Economics at LSE), Professor Anand Menon (Director of the UK in a Changing Europe initiative), Dr Alan Renwick (Deputy Director of the Constitution Unit), and Dr Simon Usherwood (Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Surrey). The event was chaired by the Director of the Constitution Unit, Professor Meg Russell.

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