Artist News

Damon Albarn backs ‘citizens’ assembly’ to fix Brexit

By | Published on Tuesday 18 December 2018

The Good, The Bad And The Queen

For all the talk in recent times of “the will of the people” and “what the British people voted for”, it’s still not really clear what anyone actually wants from Brexit. As I’m sure we’re all about to find out over Christmas lunch. In? Out? Half out? Half in? Leaving at any cost? Not leaving at all?

It’s this utter confusion and uncertainty that’s left us with a Brexit deal that no one’s happy with and that Parliament won’t support, but at the same time with no clear consensus in Parliament as to what a viable alternative might be. With all the politicians out of ideas and soon to be out of time, how much worse could it be if we just let a load of random people off the street try to sort it out?

That’s roughly the message of Damon Albarn and a load of other people who’ve signed an open letter calling for the formation of a ‘citizens’ assembly’ to deal with the Brexit shambles. Because with just over three months to go before the looming Brexit deadline of 29 Mar, apparently there’s still time to just start all over again.

“Looking on, we cannot see how a majority can be found for any proposition in Parliament”, reads the letter. “Some want to remain, some want no deal, some want Norway, some want to vote again. The same rifts exist across the UK. 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”.

The letter goes on to explain that “citizens’ assemblies operate around the world to create a neutral forum for evidence-based, participative decision-making”. Comprising around 500 randomly chosen members of the public, they take about eight weeks to organise, and then take on board the full range of views within the group before making recommendations to political representatives.

“Brexit has come to test the patience of the British public”, it concludes. “To make progress we should instead trust their wisdom and use it to resolve our differences, deepen our democracy and unite us all”.

The wisdom of the public on this issue was tested once already of course, and look where that got us. Still, with MPs basically redundant now, maybe this is a viable option.

Albarn’s backing of the idea, of course, comes after he reunited The Good, The Bad And The Queen to record a Brexit-themed album. ‘Merrie Land’ is the band’s second LP and their first for more than a decade. Speaking of which, the band have just announced new post-Brexit deadline UK tour dates in April.