The Constitution Unit


NEW PROJECT: Democracy in the UK after Brexit

28 January 2021

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The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) has awarded the Constitution Unit funding to conduct a major new research project examining attitudes to democracy in the UK in the wake of Brexit. Part of the ESRC’s Governance after Brexit programme, the project – Democracy in the UK after Brexit  – is led by the Unit’s Deputy Director, Dr Alan Renwick. Dr Renwick will be working with Unit Director Professor Meg Russell and Ben Lauderdale, Professor of Political Science at UCL, as co-investigators.

The project will examine how people view democracy: for example, to what extent do they think UK democracy should be direct or representative? It will also look at the culture of democracy: how do people expect our democracy to be practised, by politicians, political institutions, and their fellow citizens? And what are people’s institutional preferences? What roles do they think should be played, for example, by the executive, legislature, judiciary, and general public in UK political decision-making? The project will explore these and related questions through surveys and a new citizens’ assembly.

To launch the project, the Unit will host a seminar in February, assessing what we already know about attitudes to democracy in the UK, and featuring three leading experts in the field. For further information and to book a place, please click here.

The project will soon be recruiting a Research Assistant: if you are interested in applying, please keep an eye on the 'news’ section of the Constitution Unit website in the coming weeks.

Dr Renwick says: ‘The UK’s democratic arrangements have been severely stretched by the process of Brexit. It’s time for a review, and it’s crucial that any such review engages the public. We need to explore deeply what kind of democracy people want when they have had a chance to think the matter through carefully. That’s what this project will do. I’m excited to be building on our 2017 Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit and to be working with colleagues Meg Russell and Ben Lauderdale in pursuit of these objectives.’