My Secret Brexit DiaryA Glorious Illusion
My Secret Brexit Diary
A Glorious Illusion
Translated by Robin Mackay

In June 2016, the people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. As the EU’s chief negotiator, for four years Michel Barnier had a seat at the table as the two sides thrashed out what ‘Brexit’ would really mean. The result would change Britain and Europe forever.

During the 1600 days of complex and often acrimonious negotiations, Michel Barnier kept a secret diary. He recorded his private hopes and fears, and gave a blow-by-blow account as the negotiations oscillated between consensus and disagreement, transparency and lies.

From Brussels to London, from Dublin to Nicosia, Michel Barnier’s secret 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.

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  • October 2021
  • 450 pages
  • 163 x 232 mm / 6 x 9 in
Available Formats
  • Hardback $35.00
  • 9781509550869
  • Open eBook $28.00
  • 9781509550876
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations

The Main Players

A Warning

Origins of the Referendum







A Second Negotiation






About the Author
Michel Barnier was the chief Brexit negotiator for the European Union and head of the European Commission’s Task Force for Relations with the United Kingdom.
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‘There is admiration for Britain in Barnier’s Secret Brexit Diary, a blow-by-blow account of the marathon dance that he performed with a succession of British ministers and two prime ministers, all of whose behaviour he found exasperating.’
The Times

‘Michel Barnier’s new book helps explain why Britain ended up being comprehensively out-negotiated over Brexit and saddled with a flawed withdrawal agreement and a deeply disadvantageous future relationship, both of which will cause us major problems for decades to come. This is therefore an important account.’
Jonathan Powell, The Guardian

‘Michel Barnier, who is one of the most experienced and intelligent leaders in the world, played a hugely 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.’
Tony Blair

‘Michel Barnier, an Anglophile and natural team-player, is methodical, loyal, steady, above all honest. So 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 and Frost, ring all too true. His is a sobering story of British self-harm.’
Lord Kerr of Kinlochard

‘For historians writing about the UK’s long and painful exit from the European Union, Michel Barnier’s account is essential reading. For anyone interested in Brexit, it offers a valuable guide to the EU’s negotiating strategy and the people who shaped it.’
Jennifer Rankin, Brussels Correspondent, The Guardian

‘If the treaties are the legal texts of the Brexit talks then this is the human version, revealing a Michel Barnier who is much warmer and far less diplomatic than his public persona. It’s a masterclass in how the EU  operates, and a rare glimpse into the tensions on their side.’
Adam Fleming, Chief Political Correspondent, BBC News

‘How did the European Union deal with the challenge of losing a leading member state? In this unique insider’s account, the EU’s chief negotiator reflects on the Brexit process, how it unfolded and how he managed the EU’s approach to the talks. Required reading for everyone interested in figuring out what happened and why.’
Anand Menon, Professor of European Politics at King's College, London, and author of Brexit and British Politics

‘This book is required reading for anyone seriously interested in the exhausting saga of the Brexit negotiations, and it is good to have an English edition of what is undoubtedly an important historical document.’
Robert Tombs, Professor Emeritus of French History at the University of Cambridge and author of The English and Their History

"This is a political thriller: 500 pages of twists and turns, advances and setbacks, taking place behind the scenes in an altogether extraordinary negotiation."
Nicolas Demorand, France Inter

"The former European chief negotiator has delivered his Brexit novel: a unique experience of four and a half years recounted day by day, in the theatre of the powerful with its noble aims and petty squabbles, its backtracking and its bluffs, its laughter and its tears, including very personal ones.  And it’s absolutely riveting."
Mathieu Laine, Les Échos

‘An important account of how the EU comprehensively out-negotiated the UK.’
The New Statesman

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