Involve is leading the design and facilitation of the Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit.
The Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit is taking 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. The project is led by the Constitution Unit at UCL, supported by a range of partners and funders.
The members, who were selected to reflect the diversity of the UK’s electorate, are spending the weekends learning from a range of experts across the leave/remain spectrum about the different options and trade-offs involved in leaving the EU. The members are deliberating on and agree on recommendations for what form of Brexit the UK government should pursue.
Citizens’ assemblies are deliberative democratic mechanisms that are designed to improve decision-making by allowing informed and considered public opinion to be heard on major policy questions. Other similar bodies have operated in parts of Canada – notably British Columbia and Ontario – and there is a citizens’ assembly currently operating in Ireland. Two pilot citizens’ assemblies took place in parts of the UK in 2015 on the topic of devolution.
Citizens’ assemblies emphasise two important areas of democracy: the participation of ordinary citizens in decision-making; and careful, thoughtful discussion of the arguments for and against different options. The Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit will build on experiences in earlier assemblies to yield – we hope – thoughtful discussions and reasoned conclusions.
After the Assembly has met, its recommendations will be written up in a report that will be delivered to government and parliament. This will allow voices of the public to be heard among ministers and MPs. It will also allow politicians to engage effectively with public aspirations and concerns.