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The Convention: Another Vote is Possible at the Emmanuel Centre

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Time 09:30
Date 11/01/19
Price £5.92

Bringing together voices from within and outside parliament, The Convention asks whether reconciliation is possible and how does Britain heal itself? How do Leavers and Remainers begin to talk again?

A second referendum now looks like the only way to break the deadlock in Parliament, but it also offers a vital chance to bring the country together around what is best for the UK’s future and its young people.

The Convention will prepare for what will be the most important public engagement of our times. Any new referendum campaign should be conducted in a radically different manner to the 2016 vote, with a new focus on the positive benefits of EU membership and free movement, as well as on the profound faults in British politics that have led to so much division and alienation.

The Convention will draw on new voices from within and out side Parliament, particularly focusing on new thinking by Caroline Lucas and other high profile speakers such as James O'Brien, Fintan O'Toole, Ian Dunt and Jarvis Cocker; voices from all parties and from every corner of the UK and beyond. It will aim to make a critical intervention as MPs consider the Prime Minister’s deal in the following week.

We cannot go back, only forwards, which is why much of the event will be run by and for young people and with an emphasis on audience participation.

This critical intervention seeks to support the principle of informed consent and promote the message that Britain has far more to gain than fear from a final say.

Key issues and debates

How can a new referendum campaign be used to make a more enlightened, fairer future in Britain? What domestic policy changes need to be part of a new campaign in favour of EU membership?

What are young people’s concerns about leaving? What can they do about explaining those fears to an older generation whose attitudes were often formed in the mid-twentieth century? How can young people have a say in their future?

What steps can be taken to ensure that the vote is held under conditions of much greater fairness? Should there be a ban on social media adverts and the use of data to target people? What can be done to eradicate the habits of false equivalence among broadcasters? Does the Electoral Commission need more powers and a bigger budget for the campaign?

Should any new referendum be conducted under the same specifications as the 2016 vote? There are good arguments that the exclusion of British citizens living in the EU and 16-year-olds from the electorate is necessary to convince both sides that a final say is not being fixed. Or does the need to consult the people who are going to be most affected by leaving the EU overwhelm these considerations? How is the consent of the losing side gained?

What are the practicalities of a second referendum? What should be the question on the ballot paper? Is there a way of involving the public in setting the question on the paper, such as a Citizens’ Assembly? How long should the campaign last? Should the government publish a new White Paper clearly reiterating the costs of Brexit, as already identified by government departments and the Bank of England?

We cannot go back, but nor can Europe. There should be recognition that we have all been changed by the upheaval of the 2016 vote. How can Europe and Britain learn to trust each other again? Are the populist convulsions sweeping Europe a convincing argument against retaining membership of the EU? Can our renewed participation in the EU help to strengthen the liberal democracies of Europe?