House for Democracy and the Rule of Law

Lecture: Brexit – the result of the UK’s democratic deficit?

Tuesday 13 November 2018, 20:00 hour - 21:30 hour

Europe Direct The Hague and the Institute of Political Science at Leiden University (in the framework of NORTIA Jean Monnet Network on Research & Teaching in EU Foreign Affairs) have jointly prepared a series of three public lectures this autumn, called the Europe College. On November 13, Europe College’s first lecture will be on Brexit and democracy.

Was the Brexit referendum democratic? Is there a broader underlying democratic deficit in the UK? And what does the future look like for the remaining EU27? Three speakers from the field of research and policy will give their point of view and discuss them with you.

Current obstacles to the Brexit-deal

On March 30, 2019, the United Kingdom will become the second member state (after Greenland) to leave the European Union. The EU has to decide on new agreements with the UK. Negotiations are currently under stress and not progressing much in either direction. At the recent summit in Salzburg, both parties were hoping to reach consensus on several matters. However, hardly any progress was made, and once again the negotiating parties pushed for more time to come to an agreement. But March 30 is looming on the horizon.

Currently, the biggest obstacles are the bill that the UK has to pay for leaving, the rights of EU-citizens residing in the UK and the most problematic one: the Irish border problem.

How democratic was the Brexit referendum?

Polls are indicating that Leave-voters in Northern England have changed their minds and might not want to leave the European Union after all. And who can forget the citizens marching through London on October 20, demanding a vote on the final Brexit deal that includes the option to remain in the Union. The question arises: is the only way to stop Brexit another referendum?

Jon Worth argues that Brexit, and the results of the Brexit referendum, are symptoms of very specific problems of the UK’s democracy. Broken and unrepresented political parties and a skewed media made for a heady brew of prejudice and lack of grassroots political activities prior to the referendum in the UK. During this lecture, Jon will talk more in-depth about his argument.

The future of the EU27

The EU’s democratic legitimacy also faces some challenges. And what does the future hold for the remaining member states? Heidi Maurer will elaborate on the impact Brexit has on the future of the EU27.

Andreas Zenthöfer will bring a more practical approach to the discussion, drawing on his practical experience as a former European Commission official and the current head of the Political Reporting and Policy Analysis at the Representation of the European Commission in the Netherlands.


Andreas Zenthöfer
Andreas Zenthöfer has a PhD in economics, and has been a European Commission official since 2011, first at DG ECFIN, focusing on budgetary and economic developments in the Netherlands. Thereafter, he worked as a Commission official at the Representation of the European Commission in the Netherlands. Currently, he is the Head of Political Reporting and Policy Analysis at the same institution.

Heidi Maurer
Dr. Heidi Maurer is a lecturer in EU politics and European foreign policy at the Department of Politics and International Relations at the University of Oxford. She’s also a fellow at St. Anthony´s College. She holds a PhD from the University of Vienna, and has been teaching and researching in Austria, The Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Dr. Maurer is the coordinator of the Jean Monnet Network “NORTIA: Network on Research & Teaching in EU Foreign Affairs”.

Jon Worth
Jon Worth is one of the best known bloggers about the EU. He works as a freelance communications consultant, helping governments, politicians and campaign organizations with their online engagement. He also teaches at the College of Europe in Bruges. Prior to his freelance career, he worked for the National School of Government in the UK, teaching civil servants how the EU works. He is a candidate for the European Parliament Election List for the German Green Party for the 2019 European Elections.

From left to right: Jon Worth – Heidi Maurer  – Andreas Zenthöfer


Practical information

  • When: Tuesday November 13, from 8 PM till 9.30 PM (walk in from 7.30 PM)
  • Where: University Leiden, Campus Den Haag, Turfmarkt 99, The Hague
  • Entrance: Free of charge, but please register beforehand by sending an e-mail to