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Discussing Brexit—Could We Do Better?

Renwick, AJ; Palese, M; Sargeant, J; (2018) Discussing Brexit—Could We Do Better? The Political Quarterly , 89 (4) pp. 545-552. 10.1111/1467-923X.12595. Green open access

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It is widely recognised—by both Remainers and Leavers—that the quality of public debate in the lead‐up to the UK's 2016 referendum on EU membership was dismal. That was partly because of the nature of the referendum itself: it was on a broad proposal rather than a specific law; the government that called it did not support the change on the ballot paper and refused to prepare for the possibility of a vote for leaving the EU. It was also influenced by the nature of the campaign: both sides propagated misinformation; key issues were barely discussed; the public were often left dissatisfied and bewildered. This paper sets out evidence on these points and then analyses whether anything could be done to address them. Drawing on recent comparative research into referendums, it explores the importance of preparing for the decision to call a referendum. It then examines three possible approaches to improving political discourse during the campaign itself: exposing misinformation; providing high‐quality information; and promoting citizen deliberation. It finally considers how these could be applied to possible referendums on the issue of the UK's EU membership.

Type: Article
Title: Discussing Brexit—Could We Do Better?
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1111/1467-923X.12595
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-923X.12595
Language: English
Additional information: This version is the author accepted manuscript. For information on re-use, please refer to the publisher’s terms and conditions.
Keywords: Brexit, citizens' assembly, discourse, referendum
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Political Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10058707
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