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There’s a way through this Brexit gridlock which can unite the country

January 12, 2019 2:57 PM
By Darren Hughes in Electoral Reform Society

People's Asembly

The likelihood of politicians reaching a consensus on Brexit appears to be diminishing by the day - to consternation on all sides. But what if there's another way?

Parliament is split on May's deal and even that is not along party lines. There are what appear to be unbreachable schisms within both the Tories and Labour.

Bringing the country together on this issue can seem almost an impossible task. But there is a tried and tested way of doing this: a Citizens' Assembly.

You may not have heard of a Citizens' Assembly before, but it is not something to be afraid of. It's a simple way of reaching answers to difficult questions.

On Brexit, it would involve a representative group of people, initially selected at random, meeting over a few days to learn about and discuss the various issues and possible solutions.

At the end of these sessions, which can involve independent experts in an educative role as well as thinkers and campaigners on all sides, the Assembly reaches recommendations.

It's a simple idea, but one which has proved to be very effective. The 2016 citizens' assembly in Ireland has been credited with finding a way forward through complex and contested constitutional issues including laws on abortion and same-sex marriage.

The huge benefit of a Citizens' Assembly is that it provides a constructive setting which emphasises knowledge and constructive debate.

When compared to the bickering we see in the House of Commons, or the outright bullying we see online, it could be just the forum needed to unite the country on Brexit.