Our May book of the month is Tony Connelly’s Brexit and Ireland. We have previously featured Ian Dunt’s, Brexit: What the hell happens now? so why another Brexit book? The answer is that Tony’s book is different in that there is not just an examination of the facts but also a much greater examination of the people and politics than in Ian’s book. It takes you right inside the corridors of power. This updated edition as of the 5th May, in Tony’s own words: Brings the torrid tale right up to date (to the first draft of the Withdrawal Treaty). Covers the intrigue behind the Irish Protocol, how the Irish “backstop” was negotiated, and all that stuff.
More than any other journalist, RTE’s long-time Brussels correspondent Tony Connelly has been helping the public make sense of the implications of Brexit for Ireland. Now, he tells the dramatic untold story of the Irish response to this political and economic earthquake and lays out the agenda for the uncertain years ahead. Drawing on unprecedented access to insiders in Dublin, London, Belfast and Brussels, Brexit and Ireland is full of insights about how the EU actually works, and of colourful and revealing stories from the corridors of power. Connelly talks to the business leaders, farmers and entrepreneurs on the front lines of the crisis, and traces the various ways in which Brexit is likely to change our lives. Brexit and Ireland is an entertaining and revealing account of this ongoing drama, and a must-read for anyone who cares about Ireland’s and indeed the UK’s future.
Tony Connolly is extremely well connected and in fact may well have changed the course of the negotiations. On Monday the 4th Dec he tweeted
BREAKING: UK will concede that there will be no “regulatory divergence” on the island of Ireland on the single market and customs union, acc to a draft text seen by @rtenews.
At the time May was on her way to sign the draft withdrawal agreement, only to be frantically contacted by the DUP (who apparently are avid followers of Tony) who were deeply unhappy and vetoed the deal. It was not until Friday the 8th that the final deal was signed with the wording on para 49 changed from ‘no regulatory divergence’ to ‘continued regulatory alignment’ and an additional para 50 with the key phrase: the United Kingdom will ensure that no new regulatory barriers develop between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
The book has had many excellent reviews:
‘Required reading … As Ireland navigates its way through Britain’s withdrawal and the new Europe taking shape, this fine book offers an indispensable guide to the hazards and the opportunities along the way’ Denis Staunton, Irish Times
‘Excellent … It ought to be read in every European capital … Connelly examines how Brexit will affect every part of the Irish economy’ John Bruton, Sunday Times
‘One of the most enticing aspects of Connelly’s book is his promise to tell you the inside story of the Irish response. This is delivered on … He has an eye for human details that enrich the book: not only does he bring you into the room at Number 10 when Theresa May and Enda Kenny were engaged in the high-wire dance of working out the post-Brexit reality, but he tells you what they had for dessert … The first-hand account of the mass mobilisation of Official Ireland’s soft and hard power after the result, as negotiations got into gear, is engrossing’ Jack Horgan-Jones, Sunday Business Post
‘Magisterial … Connelly has encyclopaedic knowledge of European diplomatic processes and the political realities of the border, and is able to use them to great effect’ Donal O’Donovan, Irish Independent
‘I was completely absorbed by Tony Connelly’s Brexit and Ireland … Connelly shows that the implications for the Irish Republic extend to the entire economy and its relationship with the EU’ Brendan Simms, New Statesman Books of the Year
‘A valuable guide through the Brexit labyrinth’ Sunday Business Post Books of the Year.