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Session Overview
Panel 314: Identities, Democracy and Brexit
Monday, 03/Sep/2018:
3:00pm - 4:30pm

Location: 3.16

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Identities, Democracy and Brexit

Chair(s): Daniel Wincott (Cardiff University, United Kingdom)

Presenter(s): Anand Menon (Kings College London), Lindsay Richards (Nuffield College, Oxford), Alan Renwick (University College London), Ailsa Henderson (University of Edinburgh), Richard Wyn Jones (Cardiff University), Charlie Jeffery (University of Edinburgh)

The UK's Brexit referendum disclosed - and may have reinforced - a pattern of politically significant identities that does not follow traditional Britain-wide Party alignments. Among other divisions, Remainers and Leavers were split by age or generation, socially liberal and conservative attitudes, urban dwellers and those living in towns and the countryside. National identities generated distinct alignments patterns across the countries of Britain.

Since the referendum, there has been very little change in aggregate level attitudes to Brexit - or even individual level churn. Are Leave and Remain being consolidated as social and political identities? How is the politics of Brexit playing out in relation to British, English, Scottish and Welsh identities?

Democracies seek to find ways for important socio-political identities to be represented in and shape political decision-making. Equally, policy and politics can feed back into and reshape political identities. There is a powerful sense of stasis about British politics since the Brexit referendum. Many MPs and campaigners who are least enthusiastic about Brexit rely on the concept of Parliamentary Sovereignty in their efforts to limit the scope of executive power and aim to soften the terms of Britain's exit from the EU. Ironically, though, historically, this concept has supported more than restricted executive autonomy.

How well do party dynamics in House of Commons reflect and respond to social divisions across Britain? What is the relationship between the UK-level and devolved democratic institutions over Brexit. How might it be reshaped in the future? What is the scope for experimentalist forms of democracy, including democratic minipublics, to address these issues?

This roundtable draws on the evidence generated by a number of major research initiatives, including the ESRC's 'UK in a Changing Europe' (UK and EU) and 'Brexit Priority Grants' (BPG) the Future of England Surveys (FoES) as well as survey evidence from Scotland and Wales. Chaired by the ESRC's Leadership Coordinator for Governance and Brexit Research, the roundtable will have panelists drawn from Anand Menon (UK and EU Director of the UK in a Changing Europe); Ailsa Henderson (ESRC Scottish Election Study and FoES), Richard Wyn Jones (ESRC Welsh Election Study and FoES), Charlie Jeffery (Formerly ESRC Future of the U.K. and Scotland Tesearch Coordinator and FoES), Lindsay Richards (ESRC BPG 'Fixed, Crystallising or Diverging: Attitude Formation and change in the run up to Brexit') and Alan Renwick (ESRC BPG 'Citizen's Assembly on Brexit').

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