European Political Science

, Volume 18, Issue 1, pp 126–133 | Cite as

Was the Brexit referendum legitimate, and would a second one be so?

  • Richard BellamyEmail author


This article suggests that common arguments questioning the legitimacy of the first Brexit referendum prove flawed, as do certain others supporting the legitimacy of a second referendum. A different case for a second referendum is offered that would have added to the legitimacy of the first, but the opportunity for which has now passed. Nevertheless, it might be legitimate to overturn the first referendum through a normal parliamentary process should there be a significant level of Bremorse among the public, or a general election supporting a change of policy.


Brexit Constitutionalism Democracy Legitimacy Referenda 



I am grateful for comments from participants at the Oslo ECPR EPS Panel and Conferences on Referenda at the EUI and on Brexit at the University of Exeter. Further helpful points, not all of which I have been able to address here, were raised by Chris Brooke, Steven Klein, Albert Weale, Carlos Closa, Richard Rose and Sandra Kröger.


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Copyright information

© European Consortium for Political Research 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Max Weber ProgrammeEUISan Domenico di Fiesole (FI)Italy
  2. 2.Department of Political ScienceUCLLondonUK

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