My Secret Brexit Diary Book Review – Compelling, Intriguing, Insightful

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My Secret Brexit Diary, from Polity Press and author Michel Barnier, brings to the pages his intimate journal of the complicated days that followed the June 2016 vote by the British people to leave the European Union.

He introduces the 419-page tome, with a cast of players, so to inform the reader of each of the main characters in the EU and in the new and changing United Kingdom.


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For those who are unfamiliar with Barnier, he served as the EU's Chief Negotiator and Head of the European Commission Task Force for Relations with the United Kingdom.

With a jacket review by former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair who stated, "Michel Barnier, who is one of the most experienced and intelligence leaders in the world, played a highly significant role in the Brexit process and this book provides a lively and compelling account of it, drawing on his unique perspective. Anyone with a serious interest in understanding the terms of the UK's departure from the European Union will benefit from reading it."

Lord [John Olav] Kerr of Kinlochard's GCMG, a sitting member of the House of Lords, also featured on the jacket, said, in part, "His Brexit diary is disconcerting: it seems we really were as ill-prepared and inconsistent as observers suspected. His accounts of the posturing of Davis and Raab, and his discovery that he couldn't trust Johnson or Front, ring all too true. His is a sobering story of British self-harm."


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Barnier ensures that many different levels of the populous could pick-up My Secret Brexit Diary and understand the timeline of the unprecedented event as he included a chronological summary of critical moments, an annotated version of key points in the entire lengthy process from the shocking vote to the final negotiation and official U.K. departure. The Chronology section, which begins at the signing of the formation of the European Union, in 1957, provides the overview of the process and provides, short form, clarifying information.

For others, those interested in the inner workings and interactions with world leaders, the European Union, the cataclysmic progression of global events as the six year negotiation waned on, the attempts to move the process, especially as it appeared to routinely be a one step forward three steps back process, the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the challenges of elections, with the turnstile changes as 10 Downing Street and new prime ministers and along with it new negotiating styles, the daily entries, over the course of six years, then My Secret Brexit Diary provides deep insight into Brainer's mindset, emotion and thought process.

He includes a series of pictures and photographs of the days and world leaders he met with over the 1600 days of negotiations as well as satirical cartons depicting the ever-changing seasons as the June vote dragged into 2020 and the arrival of the coronavirus pandemic.


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He begins with "A Warning," and "The Origins of the Referendum" which sets the stage for the beginning of his meticulous notes, and journal entries, which are dated and include subheads to aid the reader in understanding the pressure from all sides.

For anyone who has watched the political upheaval in Europe throughout the past decade, the diary entries will serve as a reminder of the events, recalling one's own recollection of the days, times, seasons and events and like many great political moments the possibility of remembering exactly where you were when you heard the news.

And so, My Secret Brexit Diary, A Glorious Illusion, begins. From 2016 through 2021, he introduces behind the scenes moments, some known and others not, as the task of negotiating the United Kingdom's exit on behalf of the European Union proceeds. Arduous, challenging and difficult, to say the least, as is clear over the more than 400 pages of insider information.

His Diary selections are only separated by year, so, when in January 2018 the expectation that the European Union would crumble without its largest wealth nation, is not distinguished with a page note in the table of contents making it impossible for the quick review. As are all the other high moments, the entre and exit of Theresa May, the Irish question, and the unraveling of relationships as time tolled on.


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During the 1600 days of complex and often acrimonious negotiation. From Brussels to London, from Dublin to Nicosia, the diary lifts the lid on what really happened behind the scenes of one of the most high-stakes negotiations in modern history. The result is a unique testimony from the ultimate insider on the hidden world of Brexit and those who made it happen.

My Secret Brexit Diary, a prying, with permission, political thriller, provides all the tidbits one expected went on behind those closed doors during the intensity of negotiation but were never confirmed.

My Secret Brexit Diary is available at fine bookstore and online.

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