A recently published report from The UK in a Changing Europe examines various aspects of Brexit and public opinion. Here, Anand Menon, Director, and Alan Wager, researcher at The UK in a Changing Europe reflect on some of the report’s key findings. They argue that Brexit has had the effect of deeply embedding tribal politics, based on social identity, into British political life, and that it is difficult to envision this changing any time soon. This article was originally featured on The UK in a Changing Europe site and is reposted with permission.
It’s common to hear that Brexit has changed everything. And as with all such clichés, there is both an element of exaggeration and an element of truth to the claim. The decision of British voters to leave the European Union has had a fundamental effect in both revealing and deepening existing cleavages in British public opinion, and opening up new ones.
Taking a macroeconomic perspective, Paul Welfens reflects what the findings of his book ‘An Accidental Brexit’ mean in light of new developments in the Brexit negotiations. He argues that if the true economic consequences had been known, the referendum would have turned out differently and shows the potential pitfalls of the ‘Global Britain’ approach to international trade.
The joint statement by PM May and President of the European Commission Juncker on 8 December declared: there is a basic agreement on the ‘Exit Treaty’, including a UK payment of £35 to £39 billion and the British promise to avoid a hard border regime in Northern Ireland. Hence, Stage II of the negotiations can start in the near future. An exit treaty opens up options to avoid a No-Deal Brexit which would bring a net welfare loss of approximately 16% of UK real income as estimated by the European Institute for International Economic Relations (Discussion Paper 234).
What do young people in the UK – who overwhelmingly voted Remain – make of the outcome of the Brexit referendum, and how is it affecting their life plans? Avril Keating, Director of the Centre for Global Youth, UCL Institute of Education, heads a research project examining the impact of Brexit on young people. Some initial findings are presented here.
In the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum, much was made of how devastated young people were by the result. A survey by Lord Ashcroft suggested that over 70% of young people aged 18-24 voted Remain, while almost 60% of over 55s voted to Leave.
The Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit has come to an end. 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 summarises these conclusions and reflects on the weekend as a whole. He argues that, while the Brexit debate is often presented in stark binary terms, the Citizens’ Assembly suggests that the British public are capable of much subtler thinking – if only they are given the chance.
The UCL 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 and what it is hoped will be achieved.
The Constitution Unit is leading a team of academics and democracy practitioners who will run a Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit over the coming weeks. As the name suggests, a citizens’ assembly is a group of citizens who are chosen to reflect the diversity of the population at large and who gather to learn about, discuss, and draw conclusions on some aspect of public policy. The Citizens’ Assembly on Brexit provides an opportunity to shed light both on public priorities for Brexit and on the value of deliberative exercises in a polarised political context.