Brexit: Voters decide the future of Britain, Europe and the world

Inside Politics: Gordon Brown and Sadiq Khan breathed new life into the Remain campaign

The British don’t do referendums often, but when they do they are certainly massive.

First we had the Scottish referendum and now Brexit.

As you read this, millions of British residents are heading to the polls. Nothing turns on it other than the future of Britain, of Europe and the world.

Ten days ago, it looked like the Remain side had been flattened, and there was a momentum behind the Leave campaign, spearheaded by the mercurial Boris Johnston and the cerebral Michael Gove.


The size of the gap at that particular moment was shocking, but it helped to galvanise the Yes side. Labour started cranking up its game despite the diffidence of Jeremy Corbyn. The likes of Gordon Brown and Sadiq Khan certainly breathed new life into the campaign.

Everything was put into suspension by the horrible killing of Jo Cox, however. It just seemed to suck the air out of everything.

The polls yesterday showed the gap between both sides within the margin of error.

Now, as we know from the Scottish referendum and the British general election, polling companies there have hardly enjoyed vintage years of late, with a number of major booboos.

The bookies are all siding heavily with the Remain side. They sometimes get it wrong too (the Seanad referendum here). But on this occasion I think they have got it right.

It is our lead story today.

Boris was Boris yesterday, another fantabulous display lighting up the Northern sky. David Cameron was also good yesterday, he emoted, and it came across quite well.

Image of the day was Michael O’Leary looking ridiculous in a suit that was half Union Jack, half EU flag. He looked like a guy who had wandered into shot from a stag party. All that was missing was a ball and chain.

Our prediction. Tentative. The political equivalent of a Robbie Brady header will give a victory for Project Fear over Project Hate.

The Road to Nowhere

There was more than a smidgen of surprise on Wednesday when Enda Kenny announced that Ministerial responsibility for waste policy would be dumped, erm, transferred to Denis Naughten within the next few weeks, relieving Simon Coveney of a very interesting political project otherwise known as Armageddon.

In fact, there are quite a number of Ministers and Departments who have yet to have powers transferred to them, or in the case of Juniors, delegated to them.

Naughten will also be Minister for Climate Change, but those powers have yet to be formally assigned to him.

Indeed, officially many of the Departments are operating under their own names. As Miriam Lord observed yesterday, there are now three separate Departments that can lay claim to the 'environment' tag.

The very late formation of the Government has meant the first term has been a bit of a mess. The only legislation that has passed are technical carry-overs.

Indeed, it is the legislative programme that has taken the biggest battering. With less than two months to go before the summer break, it was always going to be impossible for Departments to draft new Bills.

So this session has seen the legislature (the lawmakers in other words) handling a few bitty Bills (mostly technical) that were revived from the last Dáil - and nothing else of any merit.

Chief Whip Regina Doherty made a game effort to produce a list of priority legislation earlier this month, but no amount of glossy language could take the bare look off it.

There are a few worthy Bills, including an Education Bill (from 2014) about school enrolment policies. There is the (new) Water Services Bill that will suspend water charges for nine months and establish the external advisory body. A Wildlife Bill on raised bogs (which sounds to me like a demand from the Independent Alliance, but I could be wrong) is also in there.

A few other Bills are brand new. The Criminal Justice Bill responds to the latest gangland killing and focuses on lowering the threshold to €1,000 for investigations into criminal assets.

There’s also the Bill nobody is going to object to: the law giving paid paternity leave for two weeks.

To me, there is going to be a problem with Bills in the new political dispensation. I cannot see this Government producing any far-seeing, pioneering or visionary legislation because anything that will ruffle feathers or won’t please the crowds will be pulled down.

I can see a minimalist approach to legislation. The only Bills that will get through are the ones that have to (finance, social welfare etc); or the ones that command popular support, or ones that have been diluted so much they no longer have any potency.

A legislature that is unable to make proper and substantial laws could almost be worse than one that forces legislation through.