Exclusive: Cambridge law students asked to consider what Theresa May’s Brexit deal might look like in ‘nightmare’ EU exam

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By Katie King on

Could you answer it?

Final year law students at the University of Cambridge were asked to write down what the United Kingdom’s relationship with the EU might look like post-Brexit in what’s been described as “an absolute nightmare” of an exam.

The three-hour EU law exam — which took place on Thursday at 1.30pm — asked students to choose four questions to answer out of ten. As a spokesperson for the elite university reiterated: “no single question was compulsory in this exam.”

An extract from the EU law exam paper sat by some Cambridge students last week.

Question 2 (pictured above) in particular seems to have caused the most confusion, according to a number of students who sat the exam and subsequently contacted Legal Cheek. The question was split into two parts, 2a and 2b, with the latter asking students to analyse a comment from Oxford professor — and Legal Cheek interviewee — Paul Craig. Question 2a read:

‘We will pursue a bold and ambitious Free Trade Agreement with the European Union. This agreement should allow for the freest possible trade in goods and services between Britain and the EU’s member states. It should give British companies the maximum freedom to trade with and operate within European markets — and let European businesses do the same in Britain. But I want to be clear. What I am proposing cannot mean membership of the Single Market.’ (THERESA MAY, 2017).

Consider what form this new relationship between the UK and the EU might take.

Tough one — in the words of one student, this question “went beyond the bounds of what must be considered reasonable.” He continued:

We, on a number of occasions, had been told [this topic] was not examinable and was only being included in introductory lectures and supervisions as ‘background’ and ‘out of interest’.

A University of Cambridge spokesperson responded:

The single market and problems of free trade have been covered as a sample question and topics for reading during the course, as has the European Free Trade Association and the European Economic Area. Students were all aware that the issue was on the syllabus; the syllabus was published at the start of the academic year and expressly refers to ‘the legal and political issues surrounding Brexit and its potential consequences’.

The spokesperson continued:

This was a mainstream question. There was no ‘right answer’, it was an exercise in critical thinking under exam conditions.

So, could you answer it?

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