In this lecture, Professor Adam Lazowski from Westminster Law School will argue that a non-negotiated Brexit is theoretically possible but in reality a perfect folly – unless one wants to expose the United Kingdom to legal and economic uncertainty and to create a legal vacuum in its relations with the European Union, the Member States as well as third countries with which the EU has concluded international agreements.

The levels of integration between the Member States, even including those covered by a plethora of opt-outs, are so high that the detachment from the European Union is going to be a very complex exercise. Along similar lines J.H.H. Weiler claimed already in 1985 that “[a] non-negotiated withdrawal could create such a degree of legal and economic uncertainty as to be damaging to the withdrawing State’s own interests”. This was true when Weiler’s article was published, and, it is even more so in the twenty-first century, when the levels of integration between the Member States are light years away from the European Communities of 1980s.

To cut a long story short, a unilateral withdrawal would amount to all relations with the EU ceasing, as well as a departure from dozens of free trade agreements the EU has concluded with third countries. It would be very detrimental not only to the departing country, but also to the EU.

Adam will look at the legal parameters of a unilateral withdrawal and argue that it is in the interest of all concerned that Brexit, if it materialises, is properly negotiated and governed by a withdrawal agreement addressing all pertinent legal issues.

Register to attend

All staff and students are welcome to attend, as are members of the general public. The lecture will be followed by a drinks reception in the Regent Street foyer.

Register for a free ticket via Eventbrite.


This is the first in a series of monthly Professorial Lectures by senior academics in the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities. All lectures are to be geared towards a non-specialist audience, on topics which will be of general interest to staff, students and members of the public.