A large group of visiting students and academics from Saint Francis University, Pennsylvania enjoyed a lectured entitled ‘A Primer on Brexit’ delivered by Luke Mason, Senior Lecturer in Law and Theory, at St Mary’s University in March 2017. A wide-ranging discussion, covering the cultural, political and legal meanings of Brexit, was followed by a question and answer session where St Francis students and faculty alike sought to interrogate the practical long-term consequences of Brexit and encouraged Luke to engage in some Brexit futurology.
Starting from the proposition that the maxim ‘Brexit means Brexit’ is a poor etymological definition of the term, the lecture sought to distil the cultural and political meanings of the vote to leave the European Union from the complex legal and constitutional ramifications of the decision.
The largely American audience was particularly drawn to the parallels between the significance of the referendum and recent political events in the United States. During the question and answer session there was also detailed discussion of the the cultural and political consequences of the vote. In particular, Luke reflected on the inevitable loss of the creative dialogue between the Anglo-Saxon, liberal traditions of the United Kingdom and the Continental social democratic, statist traditions of Western Europe and their combined contribution to the social and economic policies of modern Europe. Given the cultural significance of constitutional shifts caused by Brexit, students were also keen to understand how the vote might affect the future stability of an older political union of nations: the United Kingdom.
The St Francis students in attendance were completing a programme entitled Great Britain and the European Union in the Global Economy. St Mary’s and St Francis are seeking to forge deeper links for exchange opportunities for students.
Luke Mason joined St Mary’s in January 2017 from the School of Law at the University of Surrey, where he was most recently Director of Learning and Teaching. He was also previously Professor of Comparative Labour Law at the University of Bordeaux, and has taught and researched at various other institutions in the UK, Italy and Germany.
His research focuses on various aspects of law, philosophy and legal education, including the Social Policy of the EU and its relationship with constitutional values and theory. He has taken part in a large number of public engagement and media events on the subject of Brexit and its significance. In 2014 he won the national award ‘Law Teacher of the Year’.