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Is There a Mandate for Brexit? The EU Referendum and Parliamentary Sovereignty

Lecture by Dr Tom Quinn, University of Essex

University of Suffolk at West Suffolk College are excited to announce a brand new public lecture series with speakers covering a wide range of topics. For further info email

Wednesday, 16 May 2018,
18:00 to 19:00
Room E1.01 in the University building, West Suffolk College, Out Risbygate

The United Kingdom's EU referendum of 2016 resulted in a narrow victory for the 'Leave' campaign but it was quickly followed by a fierce debate over the legitimacy of the outcome. Critics claimed that the referendum was not binding on the government, and that parliament should decide whether or not Britain left the EU. Others pointed out that the details of what would come after Brexit were not available to voters and that they should have another say on the matter in either a general election or a second referendum.

An early election in 2017 intended to give the government a mandate to implement its own preferred version of Brexit instead ended in the loss of the government's parliamentary majority. This talk explores these points, and others, to establish what is meant by the notion of a 'mandate', what type of mandate for Brexit the referendum gave the government, and whether that mandate still exists.

Dr Tom Quinn is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Government at the University of Essex.  He has research interests in the British party leadership elections; the Labour Party, including links with trade unions; party organisation and intra-party democracy; the strategic positioning of British political parties and the British party system.  His publications include Electing and Ejecting Party Leaders in Britain (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012/2015) and Modernising the Labour Party: Organisational Change since 1983 (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004). He is also a regular contributor to The Conversation.