Producing a book is a bit like being pregnant: much of the time you want to throw up, part of the time you feel pleased and proud, and in the end you’re seriously relieved to get it out. I started working on this book (my eighth) shortly after the beginning of 2019 and I was working on it one way or another for nine months. Pregnancy or what?
So what did interviewing twenty-six people on both sides of the Atlantic teach me? Well, a number of things.
- Talking about and arguing over Brexit is one thing, if you’re means of making a living are not directly involved. When they are, as is the case with those in business and farming, especially in the border regions, it’s like a looming guillotine.
- It’s hard to come on someone who is unambiguously for Brexit. Either they think you’re the anti-Christ because you’re in favour of Remain or they don’t want to be quizzed on what even they suspect has been the worst decision of their lives. As John Bruton said in his interview, “Brexit is a matter to which there is no upside.”
- Unintentionally, Brexit makes the case for Sinn Féin abstentionism. We’ve all watched the mad charade that the House of Commons has been for three years and more. After which thrashing around, they come up with a Brexit leader: Boris Johnson. Need I say more?
- Separating the border and Brexit is impossible. Some of my interviewees try, but to borrow what is now a cliché, Brexit changes everything. If we in the little northern stateen are lucky, we’ll get to mimic the EU rules, but we’ll have no input in terms of EU decision-making. Although being what we’ve been for the last 100 years, that’s not a new experience.
- When I mentioned this book to a relative, she replied: “But you don’t think anyone is going to read it?” Her point was that everyone was sick hearing about Brexit. That’s like saying around 1942 that you’d lost interest in the Second World War. Brexit has already begun to deliver shocks to the system and will go on delivering them with ever-increasing force. My book of interviews, Laying it on the Line: the Border and Brexit, shines twenty-six different spotlights on the disaster from twenty-six different angles. No two interviewees saw Brexit quite the same way; the accumulation of views offers a more rounded picture than is otherwise possible.
- Check my website specially constructed for the book and make a careful note of the launch dates – 27 November in Dublin, 2 December in Belfast – and get to one if you can. And when you get there, speak to me. Please. It gets lonely at launches. Even with free wine and mince pies….
Now go straight to www.irishborderbrexit.com , enjoy the detail about the book you’ll find there, and arrange to buy the book. If you wanted it signed, I can do that either at one of the launches or in another way. But hey – this is my latest little child – be good to it, OK? Be kind. Buy it. Read it. Love it.