Citizens' Assembly on Brexit
The Constitution Unit is leading a team that will host a Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit in September 2017.
The Citizens’ Assembly, which is part of the highly respected UK in a Changing Europe initiative, will allow citizens to engage in detailed, reflective and informed discussions about what the UK’s post-Brexit relations with the European Union should be. Around 45 members of the public – who will be selected by a survey company to reflect the diversity of the UK’s population – will meet over two weekends in September. They will learn about the options for Brexit, hear from a wide range of experts and campaigners, and deliberate on what they have heard. They will then agree recommendations that will be written up in a final report and presented to key decision makers.
The campaign for June’s general election is likely to throw up sharply contrasting views on the form that Brexit should take, but there is a danger that it may create more heat than light. The Assembly, by contrast, is designed to allow deep and reflective public discussion of what are complex issues. Similar deliberative techniques have previously been used, for example in Canada and Ireland, on other constitutional matters – but more often on lower salience questions such as the choice between electoral systems. This project will test the viability of such techniques on more high-profile and polarised topics.
The project is led by the Constitution Unit’s Deputy Director, Dr Alan Renwick, working alongside the Unit’s Director, Professor Meg Russell, Professor Graham Smith (University of Westminster), Professor Will Jennings (University of Southampton) and the Electoral Reform Society. This team previously participated in the Democracy Matters project, which ran two pilot citizens’ assemblies on local devolution, in Sheffield and Southampton in 2015.
- Visit the project website
- Read the summary report
- News story announcing the results after the second assembly weekend
- Read a summary of the first weekend on the Constitution Unit blog
- News story ahead of the second assembly weekend
- News story announcing the launch of the project
- See full quotes from leading figures
- Find out more about UK in a Changing Europe
- Find out more about previous Citizens' Assemblies
- Read coverage about the assembly results in the Financial Times (£)
- Read background information and comment from Dr Renwick in an article in The Times (£)
- 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, 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 […]
Friday, 08 September 2017
The Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit – a group of citizens that will consider options for Brexit – meets for the first time today. In this post Alan Renwick, Rebecca McKee, Will Jennings and Aleksei Opacic explain the process by which members were selected to be representative of the UK electorate, both demographically and in terms […]
Wednesday, 30 August 2017
The Constitution Unit is leading a team running a Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit, which will meet over two weekends, starting with the weekend of 8–10 September. The Assembly will consist of around 45 UK citizens, selected to reflect the diversity of the UK electorate. Alan Renwick and Rebecca McKee explain how the Assembly will work […]
Friday, 23 June 2017
Today is the first anniversary of the EU referendum. To mark this the UK in a Changing Europe Initiative and Political Studies Association have published a collection of essays titled EU Referendum: One Year On. Alan Renwick‘s contribution, focusing on the continuing weakness of public debate around Brexit and how it might be strengthened, is re-produced […]
Wednesday, 01 February 2017
Britain voted to ‘take back control’ from the EU, and Theresa May’s Lancaster House speech made the repatriation of power to Westminster a priority. But it is far from clear what kind of Brexit Britons want, nor how many of these powers will go to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland rather than the UK Parliament. Katie Ghose […]