Editor's note, December 2020: Many of our interviews about Brexit took place early on, as the Brexit crisis unfolded in the UK after its citizens voted to leave the European Union in a June 2016 referendum. With a specific deal now negotiated by the Boris Johnson administration and days to go before the UK leaves the EU, economists at the UK in Changing Europe have published a report detailing its likely economic effects, "The Economic Impact of Boris Johnson's Brexit Proposal"
Which are the best books to get a better understanding of Brexit? For an economic perspective on this momentous decision for Britain, we asked economics professor Jonathan Portes for his book recommendations. For more of a political/historical perspective, we turned to novelist Boris Starling, author of The Bluffer's Guide to Brexit.
As the crisis in the UK unfolds, new books on Brexit continue to be published. Sunday Times journalist Tim Shipman has now published the second book in his highly readable (and often very funny) Brexit trilogy. It's called Fallout and follows the travails of Theresa May (and her special advisers, Nick and Fiona) as they try to implement Brexit. While on the subject of humour, if political satire is the prism through which you'd like to read about Brexit, there is a book specially for you: the Cockroach by Ian McEwan. That one of Britain's most distinguished novelists (and also a Five Books interviewee) should write a book where the prime minister and most of his cabinet are cockroaches, is a startling and rather shocking indication of the ruptures Brexit has caused in British society. The audiobook, read by British comic actor Bill Nighy, is still very funny.
Last but not least, if spy novels are your thing, it turns out even John Le Carré has written a Brexit book with his thriller, Agent Running in the Field. Le Carré died in December 2020, so it may well be the last book written by the greatest spy novelist of the 20th century.
Looking for a good Brexit book? Brexit is as complicated as the Schleswig-Holstein question and as vicious as Game of Thrones. Boris Starling, author of The Bluffer’s Guide to Brexit, talks us through some Brexit books that will leave you better read and even more mystified about what the future holds for Britain and Europe.
What Next: How to get the best from Brexit
by Daniel Hannan
Brexit Beckons: Thinking ahead by leading economists
by Richard Baldwin (ed)
Branching histories of the 2016 referendum and ‘the frogs before the storm’
by Dominic Cummings
Brexit: Why Britain Voted to Leave the European Union
by Harold Clarke, Matthew Goodwin & Paul Whiteley
by Ali Smith
Why did Brexit happen? What does the future hold for Britain outside the European Union? Can trade economists help? The economist and former head of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research, a non-partisan think tank, recommends the best books (and one blogpost) on Brexit.