Millions of hits for video of NI man’s lecture on ‘EU myths’

Professor Michael Dougan, in a screengrab from the video of his talk about the EU
Professor Michael Dougan, in a screengrab from the video of his talk about the EU

An academic who originally comes from Northern Ireland has recorded one of the most influential videos of the EU referendum campaign.

Professor Michael Dougan of Liverpool University was filmed giving a talk about the likely consequences of Brexit on the UK, in which he makes clear his own support for Remain.

The 24-minute recording has gone viral and been viewed more than two million times on the social media portal Facebook.

The Cambridge-educated Professor Dougan, who is an expert in EU constitutional law, fiercely criticises what he says are some of the myths of the Leave campaigners and says he felt obliged to abandon his public stance of independent academic advisor to bodies such as the Cabinet Office and speak candidly about the issues.

He says at the start of his talk: “Pretty much everything which is discussed in this debate is what I have spent my entire professional life working on.”

He says that his “20 odd years of professional experience working on the EU has left me very clearly, very firmly of the opinion that it is in the national interest to Remain”.

Professor Dougan says in the talk that he has “watched with increasing dismay as this referendum debate has unfolded” and he accuses the Leave campaign “of dishonesty really on an industrial scale”.

He adds: “I think the analogy probably is for someone who works in the field like I do, is probably the equivalent of an evolutionary biologist listening to a bunch of creationists tell the public that creation theory is right and evolution is completely wrong.”

Professor Dougan refers to the myth of lost UK sovereignty: “There is no doubt whatsoever that the United Kingdom is a sovereign state under international law ... Conversely, there is no doubt whatsoever that the EU is not a sovereign entity.”

He says it is also a myth to say that the UK is ignored within the European Union.

“In the field we refer to the Big Three: the UK, France and Germany, because between them the UK, France and Germany with its political, its economic, its diplomatic leadership and indeed virtually nothing happens in the EU without the big three being in control of it.

“The UK, to put it simply, has enormous influence in the EU.”

He predicts the need for 10 years or negotiations to set up Britain’s new relationship with the EU in the event of Brexit.

Professor Dougan talks about the risk of a second referendum in Scotland, and then adds: “I am far from alone in worrying about the consequences particularly for Northern Ireland, where I come from originally, since the effective absence of the border in practice between Northern Ireland and southern Ireland is a key part of the peace process in that part of the country.”

He also describes the single market as “by far and away, and with no even close competitor, the most advanced trade agreement on the planet”.

Hundreds of viewers have left comments, mostly praising the talk for filling a lack of facts in the debate. Some say he has caused them to question their Leave stances.

The talk can be viewed at the following web address (click on it): https://www.facebook.com/LiverpoolSchoolofLawandSocialJustice/