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Over 300 attend the John Field Simms, Sr. Memorial Lectureship in Law on The Legal Labyrinth of Brexit

September 12, 2016 - Tamara Williams

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New:   Watch the video of the lecture.

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Legal historian and European Union scholar Professor Aguilera-Barchet discussed the Legal Labyrinth of Brexit at the law school on Sept. 7.

Legal historian and European Union scholar Professor Aguilera-Barchet, of the King Juan Carlos University of Madrid, discussed the political, legal and economic consequences of Brexit at the UNM School of Law on September 7, 2016.

The topic attracted a wide and varied audience of over 300 people, including professors and students from other UNM departments and colleges, non-academics, and the legal community.

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UNM Law School Dean Alfred Mathewson introduced the John Field Simms, Sr. Memorial Lectureship in Law and outlined some of Simms' achievements.

Aguilera gave his presentation in his third language – he speaks Spanish, French and English. It was a highly informative, dynamic, engaging talk with humor throughout. According to Professor Aguilera-Barchet, “Bregret” is what some feel about the decision; “Bremess” is the current state of affairs.

Known for his breadth and depth of knowledge of political events and his ability to tie them together, Aguilera pointed to the similarities between the climate leading to the decision to leave the EU and the current presidential campaign in the U.S.

He outlined the deep divisions in both countries, the fear of globalization, and contempt for politicians.

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UNM Law School Dean Sergio Pareja introduced Professor Aguilera-Barchet, whom he has known for several years.

Aguilera likened Brexit to a Pandora’s Box – something that seems small and innocent but that turns out to have far-reaching negative consequences. Brexit shocked the world, caused the British pound to plummet and the UK economy to shrink – and the ramifications are just beginning.

“Brexit is a result of short-sighted politicians who proposed simple solutions that aren’t realistic for complicated problems,” said Aguilera.

He said the paradox of the situation is that the UK initially did not believe in European integration. That changed gradually and in a 1975 referendum, 67% of the country voted to the UK join Communitarian Europe – or European Communities – which later became the first pillar of the European Union.

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Some of the members of the Simms family attended and expressed their enthusiasm about this year's presentation.

Once it became part of the EU, the UK did not play by the rules of the game – including opting out of the Schengen Agreement abolishing internal border checks and refusing to use the euro as its national currency.

“Brexit will not be simple to carry out either legally or politically,” said Aguilera. He outlined a few of the reasons why constitutionally it will be challenging – including convincing the British Parliament and the local parliaments of Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales.

Aguilera concluded by saying Brexit has opened the Pandora box of European and British politics. It is going to be very difficult to close it, but not impossible.

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Law School Deans Sergio Pareja and Alfred Mathewson present a gift to Professor Aguilera-Barchet.

The presentation was enthusiastically received and several people went to the two microphones to ask questions. Afterwards, attendees enjoyed hors d’ouevres and socializing.

“As expected, Professor Aguilera’s presentation was thought-provoking, engaging, and amusing,” said Dean Sergio Pareja. “Never one to shy away from telling a joke, debating politics, or discussing history, Professor Aguilera merged all three to create an engaging presentation. We are very pleased that he was willing to travel all the way from Spain to present his ideas to the people of New Mexico.”