Brexit and Misconceptions of Governance

Brexit has been understood as a triumph of populism and nationalism, in conflict with the ethos of the Union. But Brexit should not be understood as a mere aberration, but instead indicative of exhausted thinking about EU and (transnational) law in general. From the perspective of “pure” legal theory, Brexit is self-referential. The discussion thereof reduces an order to its character and the potential benefits of the internal market. However, governance, and indeed the legal structure should be understood as chaotic and hierarchical. A retreat to sovereign power, like desire for a full participation in a system, can prove to be an illusion. The theory of integration is misleading in the context of a country joining or leaving a legal system like the EU. The discussion about inclusion, participation and control risks portraying a distorted picture of the benefits and perils of joining or leaving the Union that ignores the hierarchical structure of society and the power relationships.