It’s very easy to become overwhelmed by the onslaught of news about Brexit, especially when you’re trying to identify meaningful developments amidst the flood of confusing information pouring out from UK political circles. Quartz has some ideas to help you navigate the news without drowning in it.
This comprehensive explainer by the BBC is a great place to start. It’s constantly updated and covers everything from the terminology (What is the Single Market? What is Article 50?) to what is likely to happen next when scenarios change.
Bloomberg’s Brexit Bulletin begins each day with a quick analysis of the latest developments, which these days are mostly political. It also includes the latest business and markets news relating to Brexit. The Financial Times and the Daily Telegraph, a right-leaning paper, also have daily newsletters for subscribers.
If a weekly checkin on Brexit is enough for you, there’s the Guardian’s Brexit Briefing, which is published on Tuesdays.
More broadly, one of most enjoyable morning newsletters about UK politics is Morning Call by the New Statesman’s Stephen Bush. Come for the puns and stay for the smart analysis on the ins and outs of Westminster.
This opinion piece by the FT’s chief economics commentator Martin Wolf smartly outlines why a second referendum is the UK’s only sensible option. “Has a mature democracy ever inflicted such needless damage on itself?” he asks.
The introduction to the Centre for European Reform’s latest annual report features a great essay by its director, Charles Grant, on the lessons of Brexit. It includes a run-down of how to not leave the EU, courtesy of the bad example the UK has set. “If any good comes out of the Brexit drama, it may be the inoculation of other European countries against any attempt to leave the Union,” Grant concludes.
The London School of Economics’ Brexit blog regularly publishes analysis of the economic, political, and cultural issues arising from Brexit. For example, here’s a recent post by Tom Mullen, a professor at the University of Glasgow, on how Brexit is causing the UK to confront its territorial governance issues—that is, whether the kingdom is really united. The LSE’s Centre for Economic Performance also publishes really interesting briefings unpicking the economic impact of the referendum.
Bloomberg has an interactive tracking the impact of Brexit on businesses as they announce plans to move/cut jobs or change investment plans.
All Out War: The Full Story of How Brexit Sank Britain’s Political Class and Fall Out: A Year of Political Mayhem tell the dramatic tales of the Brexit referendum and the tumultuous year that followed it. They are written by Tim Shipman, the Sunday Times’ political editor, who has incredible access to the campaigns and the inside gossip. The books read more like thrillers than political history.
A Short History of Brexit: From Brentry to Backstop by Kevin O’Rourke, a professor of economic history at the University of Oxford, does what it says on the cover. It’s a smart, comprehensive journey through the UK’s entry into the European Community, the history of European integration, and—crucially—the history behind why the Irish border has become the central dilemma of Brexit.
Newer books about Brexit include The Bad Boys of Brexit: Tales of Mischief, Mayhem & Guerrilla Warfare in the EU Referendum Campaign, ghost written for Arron Banks, a major donor behind Brexit; Rule Britannia Brexit and the End of Empire by Danny Dorling and Sally Tomlinson; and Heroic Failure: Brexit and the Politics of Pain by Fintan O’Toole. Get the gist of O’Toole’s book here, excerpted in the Guardian.
Other books that track the UK’s historical relationship to Europe include This Blessed Plot: Britain and Europe from Churchill to Blair by Hugo Young and Continental Drift: Britain and Europe from the End of Empire to the Rise of Euroscepticism by Benjamin Grob-Fitzgibbon.
Watch Sir Ivan Rogers, the UK’s former permanent representative to the EU (he resigned in 2017), deliver a lecture full of painful truths about the failure of Britain’s political class to grasp the gravity of Brexit. Why is this in the books section? The lecture was turned into a short book, 9 Lessons in Brexit.
The lawyers: Understanding the twists and turns of Brexit is incredibly convoluted, but lawyers Jo Maugham and David Allen Green try to unpick the mess. Green is currently working on a book, Brexit: What Everyone Needs to Know.
The journalists: The bulk of Britain’s journalists have been sucked into the Brexit coverage, but a few people to start with are the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg, ITV’s political editor Robert Peston, political correspondent at the Times Henry Zeffman, political leader writer at the Financial Times Sebastian Payne, political correspondent at the Guardian Jessica Elgot, The Daily Telegraph’s Brexit and Europe correspondent James Rothwell, and BuzzFeed’s Europe editor Alberto Nardelli.
The Europeans: Donald Tusk, president of the European Council; Guy Verhofstadt, Brexit coordinator for the European Parliament; Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission; Michel Barnier, the Commission’s chief negotiator; and Sabine Weyand, Barnier’s deputy. All can be surprisingly candid on Twitter.
Let’s face it, the political chaos that is Brexit would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic. We imagine that across Westminster there are scenes playing out that could be on The Thick of It, Armando Iannucci’s expletive-riddled satirical masterpiece about the inner workings of a government department permanently out of its depth. It’s the show that brought us the word “omnishambles,” which is the only word left to describe Brexit.
Before there was The Thick of It, there was Yes Minister and Yes, Prime Minister, satires from the 1980s about politicians struggling to enact their policies due to obstruction by a pragmatic civil service. Here’s a taster that succinctly explains British newspapers. This clip, which explains the European Economic Community and British attitudes towards it, has never stopped being relevant:
For good measure, this clip on the UK’s “ancient history and current policy” to create a disunited Europe is probably the fastest way to understand Brexit:
If political satire isn’t dark enough for you, then there’s always the original version of House of Cards, set in the British Parliament, and which aired in 1990.