‘The outrage is fuelling me’ - Gina Miller

Gina Miller was the ‘lead claimant’ in the successful court battle to rule that Parliament must give its consent before the UK can officially notify the EU of its intention to leave by triggering Article 50.

Ms Miller believes, irrespective of the result, the case is crucial, constitutionally, as it upholds the sovereignty of parliament.
Born British in the then-British colony of Guyana before moving to the UK as a child, she has faced a backlash of taunts including being labelled a ‘foreign-born immigrant’ despite, as she points out, place of birth not being an issue for figures such as Boris Johnson (who was born in the USA).
She tells Connexion why she is confident of winning again when the Supreme Court hears the government’s appeal, beginning on December 5. The verdict is expected in the new year.

Your success at the High Court came as something of a surprise as we expected the court might simply uphold the government

Actually, most of the British press weren’t expecting it as they didn’t pick up on the hearing we had in July [when Lord Leveson gave the go-ahead for the October hearing and decided to group together several challenges with Ms Miller as lead claimant]. That was good for us and gave us time to prepare away from the media glare. But Connexion wasn’t guilty of that!

You have suffered a lot of backlash since winning – how are you coping with that?

I have and I think that it’s despicable the politicians and media aren’t being more responsible.
The judiciary are independent and Theresa May and Liz Truss should have stood up that night or the day after and said the backlash was unacceptable. It took until the Monday afternoon for [Brexit Minister] David Davis to say something [following the hearing on a Thursday] and it was only because Labour MP Chuka Umunna pushed them. You have to respect the principles of the independence of the rule of law and the judiciary. It is irresponsible beyond belief.

And now you’ve got Nigel Farage whipping up demonstrations at the Supreme Court, and the Supreme Court judges already being attacked and the case hasn’t even started – and somehow we’re back to 1950s prejudices, with the press calling one of the High Court judges ‘openly gay’.
I find that if anything the outrage just fuels me, because it makes me believe more than anything that this case is very important.
Lots of people are saying ‘the genie’s out of the box now, you can’t put it back in – look at America, we’re in a different world’. But my view is that you must stand up, not just say nothing and let the slide just carry on. I have contacted the police and there will be prosecutions because of threats against my husband, family, children and staff.

At the same time another thing that’s steeling my reserve is that I’ve had hundreds, perhaps thousands, of emails and social media messages from people saying they feel frightened and strangers in their own country, they’re fearful and they and their children are being bullied. There are heartbreaking stories. I never envisaged that the case would give people hope, so I feel very humbled that we’ve been able to do that. We are definitely going to be at the Supreme Court, irrespective of what anyone says.
The government are also now circulating an idea they will just draft a ‘resolution’ [ie. an affirmation that we will trigger article 50, which might be nodded through with no debate].

In other words, it would not be a proper bill?

Yes, but the judgement is very simple and very clearly written, that it has to be legislation, so they’re just misleading people with that and that will not be enough. We now also know that the Welsh Assembly and Scottish Parliament will be joining us in the appeal, and possibly Northern Ireland but that’s not confirmed yet.

Do you feel confident about the appeal?

We think the case is unappealable.
The other misdirection they are now putting out is that I am endangering the whole country because by tying the government’s hands on the royal prerogative this means they won’t be able to do things like declare war or take action on the international plane, but this is nonsense. This case is nothing to do with the international plane.
It’s irresponsible and is fuelling a new kind of hatred against me because I am supposedly endangering people and their families. If anything does happen to me I will be squarely saying the blame lies at the doors of the politicians and certain media, because they have fuelled such hatred and every word is poisoned that they write.
My answer when they accuse me is to ask if they’ve read the judgement and they just look blankly at me because they haven’t.

It hinged on the fact that parliament voted to incorporate EU law into domestic law, giving Britons certain EU rights, which should not be taken away unless parliament votes again

Of course, it’s very simple. Parliament is sovereign, that’s where it begins and ends.

In terms of rights being lost, we are partly talking about such matters as British
people’s right to live and work in France…

Oh it is fundamental. The four freedoms [of movement of people, goods, capital and services] are fundamental and they will be affected.

If there is a bill, do you think it will simply be on triggering article 50, or might it include details of the negotiation plan?

The courts will not rule on exactly what the politicians have to do but my hope is that, as I’ve sort of done the Opposition’s job for them, now all the MPs will have the courage to stand up and have the debate that didn’t happen in the lead-up to the referendum and talk about all the facets that will be affected by us withdrawing.
Then I think you will begin to see the enormity of what we are about to do. Because that really wasn’t addressed by anyone.
Personally I can only assume that the reason they are pursuing this appeal is to kick the can down the road because they have no plan.
If they had a plan, the case gave them a clear path to move forward. I think they are appealing because they have nothing to debate.

What are your personal hopes for the outcome? Are you just interested in a good debate or are you hoping, for example, for a ‘soft Brexit’?

I am, because I think anything else would be detrimental to our country.
I think it’s going to be detrimental to everybody and future generations and we’ve got to think carefully about this.
However there seems to be an idea that it’s all just up to us. But it’s not just up to us, there are all the other [EU] countries involved. And in Britain everyone is talking about soft or hard, but in Brussels they’re all talking about ‘brutal Brexit’. They’re not giving in.
There’s been a suggestion that in Germany the car and pharmaceutical industries will be lobbying Merkel for a soft Brexit, but it’s not happening; they are saying they don’t want any concessions to the UK. It’s not looking good for us.

Is it possible the UK will not exit at all?

I think it is a possibility that we will have an early election because they don’t have anything to put before parliament and at that point there will be a party – or coalition – that will stand up and say we shouldn’t leave.

If that does happen there could be disappointment again for expats if the 15-year rule has not been changed yet

Yes, also planned electoral boundary changes will not have happened. Everyone thinks it might be in the spring but I don’t think it will be. Everything is up in the air and I don’t think we can make any predictions about dates.

Some MPs say they would not vote against article 50 because ‘the people have spoken’. Should they vote with their consciences?

Yes, that is what I am hoping for. I also hope they go back to their constituents and talk to them because I am getting emails from leavers who say until this case they hadn’t really appreciated the issues. So there is a mood change out there. They did not vote for a hard Brexit or us leaving the single market. Time is on the side of a decent debate.
What I find so disappointing about the politicians is a lack of courage. Anything to do with the word ‘Brexit’ is so emotionally charged they seem to be incapable of being strong and standing up for their principles, and that includes Mrs May. She’s seems more interested in riding this wave of populism than thinking about what’s best for the people. The referendum wasn’t about the people, it was about the Conservative Party.
Also I think because the average person is used to voting in elections, I think they have confused elections and referenda, and the difference hasn’t been made clear. A referendum isn’t an election.

On The Andrew Marr Show you got Nigel Farage to admit the referendum was advisory

Yes, that was the first time he has admitted that. It was clear from the 2015 Referendum Act that it was only advisory but the politicians forgot to tell the people. I understand why people are angry, because they were tricked – the leaflets said we will carry out your vote. But the politicians had their fingers crossed behind their backs and never thought they would lose and have to carry it out. That’s why they all disappeared.

Thank you for taking time to talk to us

Thank you. I’d like to also say that Connexion has done amazingly in the ways you have intervened, especially online. It got to a point where the internet and social media were so horrendous but then you popped up and I’d like to say thank you so much to your team; it’s been brilliant.

Editor’s note: We are touched by Ms Miller’s
compliments. However, our role is simply to cover topics pertinent to readers and, in particular, to give balance to a debate. We also asked Nigel Farage’s office for his view regarding the hearing but on going to press have yet to receive a reply. Write to us at news@connexionfrance.com

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