Brexit Café in the East Midlands: Conversations amongst the confusion

On 13 July 2018, academics from Loughborough University London’s Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance, hosted a Brexit Café at our East Midlands campus as part of their 28+ Perspectives on Brexit project.

The 28+ Perspective on Brexit project, part of the UK in a Changing Europe initiative, organised a “Brexit Café” in the East Midlands to provide a platform for deep meaningful conversations about Brexit for civil society stakeholders in the region.

Almost 50 participants representing a wide variety of business, NGOs, charities, higher education institutions and other civil society stakeholders attended the café event, and engaged in an evening of conversation on the subject of Brexit.

The participants were invited to discuss three questions in rounds of around 15 minutes each: What are your foremost thoughts about Brexit? How do you think Brexit will affect you professionally? And how do you hope the UK-EU relationship will look like in 5 years’ time?

Dr Borja Garcia, co-investigator on the project said: ‘the “Brexit Café” adapted the world café model to encourage meaningful, calm and reflective conversations on Brexit, where participants are required not just to express their views, but to pay attention to others trying to join dots and create new patterns of thoughts. It is designed to generate a calm debate and exchange of views on an issue that has certainly divided people across the country.’

MP for Loughborough, Rt. Hon. Nicky Morgan, attended the Brexit Café and closed proceedings on the evening by thanking all the participants for their views and opinions. She highlighted that it is “very useful to listen to other people’s views as to why they voted the way they did”.

This edition of the “Brexit Café” demonstrated that the format adapted to the reality of Brexit by the 28+ Perspectives on Brexit project team is an innovative and different way of generating conversations on such a divisive issue. This Brexit Café brought the debate to the East Midlands and demonstrated that a real dialogue is possible. Participants congratulated the project team for the format, which facilitated a very fruitful and enjoyable evening for them.

Professor Helen Drake and Dr Nicola Chelotti from our Institute for Diplomacy and International Governance are part of a multi-generational, multidisciplinary and gender-balanced team who have won funding from the ESRC to be part of its UK in a Changing Europe programme, 28+ Perspectives on Brexit. To find more information about the project, take a look at our blog.