Second referendum ‘perfectly possible’, say top EU law professors on Q&A Reddit thread

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By Katie King on

University of Liverpool experts use social media to spread their wisdom


There is “no obstacle” in law to the United Kingdom holding a second referendum on EU membership, according to a group of EU law experts from the University of Liverpool.

The experts were speaking on a Q&A Reddit thread titled ‘We are a group of EU Law legal experts researching Brexit. Ask us Anything’, which was organised and promoted by academics Michael Dougan, Thomas Horsley, Eleanor Drywood, Stephanie Reynolds, Harriet Gray and Andrew Woodhouse. They were asked a number of tricky legal questions about Brexit, whether it will actually happen, and whether the result can be reversed by a second referendum.

Interestingly, the Liverpool clan think this reversal is “perfectly possible”. Continuing, the academics said that a second referendum:

[W]ould offer the UK public the option as to whether they still wanted to leave.

However, Dougan — who notably set up an incredible out-of-office email response to stave off Brexit abuse — and co were at pains to point out that the real issue lies not in the law but in the politics of the issue. They explain:

The decision whether or not to hold a second referendum is a political one. The Prime Minister has recently indicated a commitment to honour the result of the June referendum: in her words, ‘Brexit means Brexit,’ so a second referendum is presently unlikely.

So — although Brexit legal challenges rumble on — the group behind the EULawAtLiverpool Reddit account were content to say:

[M]ost informed commentators believe [the chances of the UK making a valid Article 50 notification] to be a very high probability.

While the content of the Q&A was, at times, very technical, it’s interesting to see a team of lawyers reaching out to the masses and using social media in this way (the group is also spreading EU law love over on Facebook).

Speaking to Legal Cheek, the academics explained their decision to go online is driven by a desire to inform public debate. They explained:

It was clear in the referendum campaign that there was a lot of misinformation that wasn’t sufficiently challenged by the media. We hope to be able to help with this in the future.

They continued:

Reddit, and particularly the AMA [Ask Me Anything], offers a great platform for academics to help inform the public debate. It is clear from the interest that people want to know the facts on these issues. Our team will continue to seek ways to pass our expertise on to the public directly.”