Head of Durham Law School says Brexit will never happen

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Daily Mail readers furious


Law and government professor and head of Durham Law School Thom Brooks has made waves in right wing media comments sections by claiming Article 50 will never be invoked and Brexit will never happen.

Connecticut-born professor Brooks, who announced he will be heading the Russell Group law school earlier this month, has said:

I do not think Article 50 will be invoked.

Leaving the EU — and ultimately unravelling a 42-year-old evolving legal relationship — would be “an absolutely massive task”. Speaking to the Mail Online, he continued:

The closer the government looks at what is actually involved in leaving then the less likely they are going to be jumping ship.

The former Newcastle University lecturer even went as far as dismissing Theresa May’s famous “Brexit means Brexit” vow as similar to saying “gobbledygook is gobbledygook”.

Unsurprisingly, Brooks’ comments have riled Mail Online readers. Snippets from the comments section include “We have had the Vote, now get over it” and “42 years of legal stuff too difficult to unpick? What absolute nonsense. A millenia [sic] of British law and a century of commitment to the Commonwealth was ditched overnight when the UK joined the EU”.

The government knows there are strong democracy arguments for honouring the vote, and Brooks thinks politicians will do their best to appease disgruntled Leave voters by calling a second referendum:

I expect May will have Boris and other Brexiteers submit a plan for a second referendum. This will be presented as the government’s best efforts to honour the previous referendum result — however far short it may fall of Britain leaving the EU altogether. This second referendum will either see Britain changing its mind on Brexit or voting for something other than a full withdrawal.

However, both the Foreign Office and the brand new Department for Exiting the European Union have confirmed that Brexit does, indeed, mean Brexit.

So, Legal Cheek readers, what do you think? Do you think Article 50 will ever been invoked?



I wouldn’t be so quick to poke fun at Daily Mail readers’ comments. The comments from LC readers on this subject are often enraged and erratic. (As they are about most things, frankly.)


Not Amused

Do Durham actual call their Law Faculty a Law School? When did this grotesque abasement of British culture begin? Don’t you all know it sounds pompous, false and odd?

That is my main concern. His views on Brexit are nothing we haven’t heard before. Give him a Horlicks and when he’s finished crying tell him that we’re all OK and that the EU is falling apart anyway (see Ireland and tax).

Tell him that Chicken Little is supposed to be a cautionary tale on how not to behave – it’s not a manual for how to live.



Lots of universities have schools which are subdivisions of faculties. Often Law is such a school which is part of a wider faculty. But then don’t let the facts get in the the way of a good, vaguely hidden, racist rant.


Not Amused

Well at the unis I know faculties are subject specific and may belong to larger groupings called schools: I.e. the law faculty is part of the school of the humanities.

However, no undergraduate would generally use the term and its use in common parlance is quite clearly an Americanism (combined with the fact that law students are inclined to be pompous).

And I must be a racist because I voted for Brexit.



It’s use in common parlance stems from the fact that UK universities often have law schools – Durham, Warwick, York, Birmingham for example – top UK universities. Your lexicography is imagined – even possibly a little pompous – a “faculty” is not necessarily part of a “school” – the University of Cambridge for example has a Law Faculty, a Business School and indeed, an Engineering Department, all 3 of similar standing. At Oxford University, schools are part of a faculty – the Law “Faculty” combines Law “Schools” in individual colleges.

And yes, you must.


Not Amused

In both Oxford and Cambridge the law faculties for part of the school of the Humanities.


Yup. And a very distinguished one.



Well Durham is in the top three university’s so you know he probably knows a thing or two. Or have you had enough of experts :Rollseyes:






“[P]ompous, false and odd” – a better description of Not Amused has never been written.



Keep saying the EU is collapsing NA. One day, if you close your eyes and wish very hard, a shooting star might flash across the sky and make all your dreams come true.


TOP solicitor (copyright - Katie King)

“Some law lecturer not involved with the process says brexit is too difficult so it won’t happen”

Who cares? If you want I’ll ask my driver his opinion and you can post that if you want?


Lolzies from LSE

“Durham Law School”


Dublin BL

Brexit and the pace at which it occurs (or if it occurs) will be dictated by markets, not by politicians.

In any event, there is no way that the change in relationship between the EU and the UK will be as radical as anyone who voted leave will have envisaged or expected.



Where is Roger #ultimatebae



Could Legal Cheek please correct its Twitter post? ‘been’ is incorrect.



Hope he’s wrong.



How old are people on average commenting here? The guy said: “I don’t think Brexit will happen”. It is a mere opinion, so why attack him?



because he is wrong

Jimmy (aged 9.5)

This post has been moderated because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.


Jimmy's mum


Stop talking to questionable people on the Internet and do your bloody homework!



Having a different view to an offered opinion is not attacking him…..

This is a guy who has a proportion of his work and income funded by the EU – so of course, he has a vested interest in propagating a brexit – sceptic view…. On a separate note – how selfish is that?!? Just because your existence is part – funded by the EU (eg your salary) – you cannot even step outside of that to acknowledge that while the EU offers some advantages (that the UK could also achieve by itself), it also contains significant problems too? His motives are utterly transparent, biased and unethical.

THE REALITY – is different though…. brexit really does mean brexit…..



This argument is so stupid because anyone who is an EU expert DOES NOT have to worry – given the complexities, they are going to be RAKING IN THE CASH. DUH.

Sorry, it’s just so obvious a point I felt a need for caps.



It’s not an argument – it’s a fact. It’s a reality. The author of the original comment from Durham is EU funded. I am pointing out the CONFLICT OF INTEREST that is based in fact. “I am pro EU because they pay my wages”, is not a balanced view of the relative merits of EU membership.

And no, he will not be “raking in the cash” hence his emphatic and childish defence of the EU and art 51 process (“gobbledygook”?!?!) MC firms may do well out of the period of adjustment and high level civil servants, and even then, for the time it takes to adjust.

The rest, in particular academia, face a pay freeze as their funding is gone now. A more mature approach would be to think about how they are going to make Brexit work for academics by perhaps providing extra courses / an increase in service provision to make up the funding shortfall / and a better comprehensive standard of teaching. This should be used as a stimulus to innovate teaching in higher education to provide more courses and better teaching.

It is childish and short sighted to mock the changes that have taken place and make flippant comments (again, I return to “gobbledygook”) – is this really the standard and long term planning at Durham. Shame.



It’s not a conflict of interest. Durham gets EU funding. He believes that leaving the EU will not happen. A ‘conflict’ implies that there is a further duty or interest that contradicts those things, and there isn’t.


But what does Brexit actually mean?


EU migrant

Ask Denis MacShane…



Explain please “Brexit means Brexit ” still meaningless.


Just as an addition to the above – 42 years of legal stuff is NOT difficult to unpick, it is a period of adjustment but not difficult…..

Thank goodness the UK did not join the single currency / Euro – now THAT would have been difficult to unpick……



“Legal stuff”, is that the technical term?



He is stating that it would be irrational to invoke article 50, therefore it won’t happen. This assumes that politicians act rationally, which is a completely bogus assumption. Politicians act politically, and the electorate wants to hurt itself. They will oblige. This will continue until the shelves at Aldi are empty because we reject WTO rules on non-discriminatory tariffs and nobody will trade with us.



Why would we reject non-discriminatory tariffs? That’s what we’d want post-Brexit. It’s asymmetry in EU trade arrangements – i.e. those that favour the EU – that we’re trying to avoid.


Quite Amused By Not Amused

Great use of the English language in that tweet … this is such a non-story, I suppose holiday time for lawyers and students means pickings are slim right now, eh, LC?

Does anyone fancy a pint?



I do. Yummy pint. Get in my tummy.



To be honest, I voted to remain, for a number of reasons. I do not believe that being Little Englander is the right way forward. In Europe we were one of the 3 big players, together with France and Germany that had real influence. I understand concerns about immigration, but there are other ways this can be resolved. Worsening job prospects, as more companies relocate to the Continent, so they can maintain access to the single market, a fall in the pound, worsening employment conditions including a reduction in paid holidays, and the widespread use of zero-hour contracts is not good. Neither is exiting the Human Convention of Human Rights. The United Kingdom will break up, as Scotland rightly goes independent, and there could also be problems in Ireland, and Gibraltar. England, because that is what we will be, will no longer have much influence on the World Stage. It will become very inward looking, and isolated. There was no plan for Brexit. It was all about immigration. I can’t believe that on such a monumental issue as this, it was left to the people to decide. People, including myself, who did not understand all the issues, and consequences. The Brexit campaigners told massive lies in-order to persuade people to leave, such as extra money for the NHS. If we are left being stand alone England, we will be governed by the Tories forever, and I am sure the older readers that read the Daily Mail will be happy with this scenario. As will those that idolise Farage, and probably read the Sun. Parliament should decide the future of the Country.


Not Amused

I respect your right to a view. But I did understand the issues and I voted to leave.

I don’t want to live in a country where my democratic voice is overridden just because you’re a little frightened.



Like when Scotland tried to leave the UK?



I do not respect your views. You do not understand the issues or why people voted to leave.
Your post is also full of lies: –

“Worsening job prospects” -unemployment is down.
“more companies relocate to the Continent” – none have gone, who is planning to go? No one.
“worsening employment conditions including a reduction in paid holidays” – this has not happened and is not even proposed to happen.
“widespread use of zero-hour contracts” – being going on for years before the vote.
“The United Kingdom will break up, as Scotland rightly goes independent”, They tied and failed before the vote and the pols suggest they would fail again.
“There was no plan for Brexit”. – yes there was.
“It was all about immigration.” – no it wasnt.
I can’t believe that on such a monumental issue as this, it was left to the people to decide” – its called democracy.
“People, including myself, who did not understand all the issues” – BANG ON!
“Brexit campaigners told massive lies” – so did the remainders. Where is my zombie apocalypse?
“we will be governed by the Tories forever” – only if labour continue to be a total failure. ,

You are exactly why we should leave – sniveling terrified lefties without a clue about how normal people think.



“There was no plan for Brexit”. – yes there was.

C’mon, no one believes that! There was obviously no plan for Brexit, because the government was convinced that it would never happen. The LEAVE campaign had a million different plans, but they never coalesced into a unified manifesto.


Baron Bompus

Suck it up whiners. Out means out.


Dr Wombles

Oh dear, looks like the rustics are out with their pitchforks again.


Quite Amused By Not Amused

Can anyone recommend an all natural method for cleaning leather boots? I was told vinegar and water to get the mud and oomska off them, let them dry, and then rub in saddle soap. But I think saddle soap tends to have all sorts of nasty chemicals in it. Any ideas anyone?



What does Professor Michael Dougan think?

Now there’s an EU law academic worth listening to!



I agree that Dougan is by the most impressive, but the truth is that no legal academics are worth listening to on the likelihood of Brexit happening.

Politics trumps law in these scenarios, and the last person you want to ask about the political reality is a legal academic in their ivory tower.



This theory completely ignores the fact that if Brexit doesn’t go through, it would be viewed by the public as primarily Theresa May’s failure. She is aware of this.



But who is going to be bothered? The REMAIN voters will rejoice, half the LEAVE voters will have realised what they voted for and let out a sigh of relief that they didn’t get it after all (Sunderland votes OUT, and the realisation of that is fewer jobs at the Nissan plant – well done lads!). So you’re left with 25% of the population who are permanent eurosceptics, and who are Tory voters anyway.



No, politics does not trump law here. Leaving the EU is a legal act, which needs an Act of Parliament. This is a legal process and lawyers will draft this. Like it or not, my dear Quitters, simply saying ” I want” will not bring about Brexit. Of course, this is only a legal expert and leave voters hate experts… They know best, what is best for their which is also my country and country of those who want to stay in the EU, and of the 63% who did not vote “out”… Brexit means Brexit, bull means bull, but that doesn’t mean that it will happen.



I wish we had voted to stay in. But that doesn’t mean I like this sort of nonsense.

No Act is required. The best view is that prerogative treaty powers apply. But if the courts do decide that Parliament must make a decision (unlikely in my view) a resolution will do. In any event, whether a resolution or a bill is voted on the process will be political. Any party that mobilises to prevent a referendum result will be toast. You can forget Tim Farron’s and David Lammy’s bravado: when it comes to it no party will vote down the public.


Willson, LL.B

Enjoy Thom Brooks articles in Newcastle “Journal” and hope that he will soon publish one about A50, “Trigger” and TM the PM’s “royal prerogative”…


Tom Hanks



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