Citizens' Assembly on Brexit
The Constitution Unit led the team that hosted the Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit in September 2017.
- The Summary Report sets out the Assembly's recommendations
- The Full Report sets out the recommendations and also gives detailed information on how the Assembly was formed and how it functioned
The Citizens’ Assembly, which is part of the highly respected UK in a Changing Europe initiative, brought together citizens to engage in detailed, reflective and informed discussions about what the UK’s post-Brexit relations with the European Union should be. 50 members of the public – who were selected using a survey company and reflected the diversity of the UK’s population – met in Manchester over two weekends in September.
Over the two weekends the Members learnt about the different options for Brexit, focusing on trade and immigration. They listened to each other, heard from and questioned a wide range of experts, and deliberated in depth. At the end of the second weekend the Assembly Members agreed recommendations.
The project has important implications both for Brexit and for how we conduct democratic decision-making.
• On Brexit, the majority of Assembly Members favoured a bespoke trade deal between the UK and the EU, but were clear that, if such a deal proves unattainable, they would prefer the UK to stay in the Single Market and Customs Union than leave the EU with no deal. They wanted the UK to maintain free movement of labour, but to use the controls that are available within the terms of the Single Market and make other changes that would reduce immigration and mitigate its costs.
• On democracy, the Assembly demonstrated that deliberative exercises such as this can work very well even on highly polarised issues. Citizens’ assemblies and other similar bodies deserve to be used again on Brexit and other issues, particularly where problems are widely acknowledged but solutions are difficult to find.
Further information about the Assembly, including all the slides and briefing papers from the Assembly weekends, are available on the Assembly’s website.
- Key Personnel
The assembly is led from the Constitution Unit at UCL. The project team also includes academics from the Universities of Southampton and Westminster, and we have two project partners, The Electoral Reform Society (Impact and Public Engagement) and Involve (Assembly Delivery).
For the full list of team members visit the dedicated citizens' assembly website.
Key personnel include:
- Dr Alan Renwick, Director (Principal Investigator) of the Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit research project and Deputy Director of the Constitution Unit
- Professor Graham Smith, co-investigator on the Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit project and Director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Westminster
- Professor Meg Russell, co-investigator on the Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit project and Director of the Constitution Unit
- Dr Rebecca McKee, Research Associate for the Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit
- Edd Rowe, Project Administrator for the Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit
- Project Funding
The UK in a Changing Europe initiative, directed by Professor Anand Menon of King’s College London, exists to provide an authoritative, non-partisan and impartial reference point for those looking for information, insights and analysis about UK–EU relations.
The ESRC is the UK’s largest organisation funding social and economic research. This non-departmental public body (NDPB) supports independent, high quality research with impact ranging across business, the public sector and civil society.
- Blog Posts
Thursday, 25 October 2018
Citizens’ assemblies are gaining increasing attention in the UK and elsewhere. The country with most experience of using them at national level is Ireland. The Constitution Unit therefore recently hosted a seminar exploring lessons for the UK of Ireland’s citizens’ assemblies with two of Ireland’s leading experts. In this post, Hannah Kaufman draws out five […]
Monday, 16 July 2018
The latest issue of Monitor, the Constitution Unit’s regular newsletter, was published today. The issue covers all of the major UK constitutional developments over the past four months, a period that has seen the EU (Withdrawal) Bill pass into law, a government White Paper on Brexit provoke numerous ministerial resignations, continuing investigations into the conduct of […]
Thursday, 21 December 2017
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 […]
Wednesday, 13 December 2017
Over two weekends in September 2017, the Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit brought together 50 randomly selected citizens to consider and make recommendations on the form of Brexit that they wanted the UK to pursue. Today, just two days before the European Council is expected to give the green light to starting negotiations on the future […]
Wednesday, 06 December 2017
The Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit, held over two weekends in the autumn, brought together a representative sample of the population to discuss the form Brexit should take with respect to immigration and trade. But, as an unofficial body in contrast to past and present assemblies in Canada, the Netherlands and Ireland, should it really be […]
Thursday, 26 October 2017
The Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit has just published its first report. Building on findings previously reported on this blog, it sets out how the Citizens’ Assembly operated and what conclusions it reached. Alan Renwick offers a summary and gives a foretaste of the work that is still to come in ensuring that policy-makers can hear […]
Tuesday, 03 October 2017
The conclusions reached by the Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit, composed of a politically and demographically representative group of 50 members of the public, were reported on this blog yesterday. In this post the Assembly’s Design and Facilitation Lead Sarah Allan tells the story of how the Assembly’s two weekends worked. Last weekend saw the finale of the Citizens’ […]
Monday, 02 October 2017
The Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit reached its climax yesterday. After two weekends of intense deliberation, the members voted on a range of options for the form they want Brexit to take in relation to trade and immigration. Their conclusions will surprise some, and they deserve detailed attention from politicians and commentators. Assembly Director Alan Renwick […]
Monday, 11 September 2017
The Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit has just begun its work. The project’s director, Alan Renwick, here offers some initial, personal reflections on a highly successful first weekend. The Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit has just completed its first weekend of deliberations. As an earlier post explained, the Assembly is a gathering of people from across the […]
- In the Media
In the Media
- The Political Quarterly - Dr Alan Renwick discusses what kind of Brexit voters want and lessons from the Citizens' Assembly. Published 7 June 2018
- Reasons to be Cheerful - Ed Miliband discussed the Unit-led Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit in depth on his podcast with the Assembly’s lead facilitator, Sarah Allan. Published on 4 February 2018
- The Guardian - Nicholas Gruen explores the assembly and its results. Published 16 January 2018
- The Guardian - Polly Toynbee discusses the results of the assembly. Published 14 December 2017
- Political Insight - ‘Citizens’ Assemblies: A Better Way of Doing Democracy?’ by Dr Alan Renwick. Published 10 November 2017
- Prospect - '“No deal” Brexiteers don’t have the backing of the public' by Dr Alan Renwick. Published 25 October 2017
- Jazz FM - Dr Alan Renwick was interviewed about the assembly on the Business Breakfast programme on 4 October 2017
- Financial Times (£) - 'Cutting through the Brexit cacophony' by James Blitz. Published 3 October 2017
- The Irish Times - Dr Alan Renwick quoted on the results of the assembly. Published 2 October 2017
- The Times (£) - 'A citizens’ assembly can help settle the big EU questions' by Dr Alan Renwick. Published on 4 September 2017
- Politics.co.uk - 'A citizens' assembly could help settle the big Brexit questions' by Dr Alan Rewnick. Published on 29 August 2017
Photos from the launch of the Citizens' Assembly on Brexit in parliament
Video footage from the Assembly weekends
The Citizens' Assembly on Brexit
The Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit took place over two weekends in September, bringing people together and broadly representing the electorate of the United Kingdom. The Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit allows members to engage in detailed, reflective and informed discussions about what the UK’s post-Brexit relations with the European Union should be.
Video made by http://www.steamrollerproductions.co.uk/
Brexit and public opinion conference
The UK in a Changing Europe: Brexit and public opinion conference, 31 January 2018
Anthony Wells – Director of Political and Social Research, You Gov
John Garry – Research leader, The UK in a Changing Europe and Professor of political behaviour, Queen’s University Belfast
Alan Renwick (from 6:18)– Research leader, The UK in a Changing Europe and Deputy Director, UCL Constitution Unit
Sara Hobolt – Research leader, UK in a Changing Europe and Professor in the Department of Government and the European Institute, LSE
Chair: Adam Boulton, Editor-at-large of Sky News, and the current presenter of All Out Politics