Damon Albarn has joined other public figures in calling for the creation of a Citizen’s Assembly to break though the Brexit stalemate. He’s urging for 500 members of the public to debate the issue and decide on how to move forward.
The call comes after Prime Minister Theresa May called off the televised debate over Brexit that she called for, cancelled a parliamentary vote over her proposed deal to leave the EU, and a visit to Brussels that saw nothing being resolved.
Among those joining the Gorillaz and Blur singer in the creation of a Citizen’s Assembly are authors Jonathan Coe and Ian McEwan, Labour peers Ruth Lister and Michael Wills, and religious leaders Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner and the Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams.
Writing to the Guardian, Albarn and his fellow signatories said: “We cannot see how a majority can be found for any proposition in parliament: some want to remain, some want no deal, some want Norway, some want to vote again. The same rifts exist across the UK.”
They continued: “Anger and resentment are growing, splitting families, communities and our country. Without a new intervention, the toxic culture which has infected public life will irrevocably damage democracy and the future for us all.”
Citizens’ Assemblies are increasing in popularity around the world and involve members of the public tackle the issues that haven’t been solved by their politicians. Using a combination of small discussions and larger debates and overseen by experts, they aim to break through party lines and the tribalism that lies at the heart of many contentious political and social issues.
A form of Citizen’s Assembly was recently employed to solve the issue of abortion in Ireland where 99 voters debated the issue in a Dublin hotel. Their meetings led to the referendum that saw abortion legalized in Ireland.
The open letter concludes: “Brexit has come to test the patience of the British public. To make progress we should instead trust their wisdom and use it to resolve our differences, deepen our democracy and unite us all.”