Gina Miller’s Advice To Theresa May: "Stand Up For All The British Public And Their Best Interests."
In this exclusive interview Gina Miller talks about the Article 50 case, her opinion of politicians, the role of the media in the way she has been portrayed to the public, the rise of populism and alternative facts, shares her views on the Commons debate and how she sees the MPs who have decided to vote with the Government and approved the third reading of the Brexit Bill by 494 votes to 122, talks about her future plans, and even reveals her advice to Theresa May.
POLITICIANS’ “OBSESSION WITH POWER AND PROPAGANDA.”
After the Supreme Court’s verdict that gave the British Parliament a vote on triggering the process of leaving the European Union, some of the most influential Brexiteers stormed the media to explain how wrong and anti-democratic that decision was. One of them, Tory MP Ian Duncan Smith, appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme and said: “There’s the European issue but there’s also the issue about who is supreme — Parliament or a self-appointed court. This is the issue here right now, so I was intrigued that it was a split judgment (#FactCheck: It was not a split judgment, but a clear win 8–3: “The Supreme Court by a majority of 8 to 3 dismisses the Secretary of State’s appeal.”). I’m disappointed they’ve decided to tell Parliament how to run its business (#FactCheck: “The UK’s constitutional requirements are a matter of domestic law which the parties all agree should be determined by UK judges.”). I think that leads further down the road to real constitutional issues about who is supreme in this role.” Last October, in her Conservative conference speech, Prime minister Theresa May herself claimed that those arguing that parliament should have a say on Article 50 were “not standing up for democracy, they’re trying to subvert it. They’re not trying to get Brexit right, they’re trying to kill it by delaying it. They are insulting the intelligence of the British people.”
Gina Miller, why do you think Brexit politicians like Ian Duncan Smith, or Nigel Farage, don’t seem to understand, or don’t want to understand, the basic constitutional law behind your case? Is this Trump’s “post-truth” /“alternative facts” politics made in Britain?
“It is either shocking that such senior politicians fail to possess even a basic grasp of our constitution, rule of law, independence of the judiciary and role of Ministers; or they are well aware but not interested in truth or the country; it is evident that they are solely focused on power, mischief making and feeding off the negativity and divisiveness growing in our societies. The old adage of ‘think before you speak’ comes to mind. The demotion of truth to a footnote should be alarming to all fair-minded principled people. I assume they entered politics because of people and principles — this has been overtaken by an obsession with power and propaganda.”
“BIG, STATE ALTERING LIES.”
During and after the EU referendum campaign, voters from both Leave and Remain sides have noticed that exaggerations and lies have intoxicated the post-referendum political debate around Brexit. From the famous £350m-a-week NHS funding pledge shamelessly abandoned by the winners claiming it was only just a suggestion, to the Parliament having in fact always “remained sovereign throughout our membership of the EU” despite the fact that “it has not always felt like that” according to the Government’s Brexit White Paper (par 2.1). What about headlines such as “98 per cent say NO to EU deal: Forget talks with Brussels and quit NOW, urges new poll” found to have breached Clause 1 (accuracy) of the Editor’s Code of Practice by the press regulator or “EU boost to house prices” found to be seriously inaccurate by IPSO? The return of Parliamentary sovereignty actually being seen by the Brexiteers and their supporters — the very ones who campaigned to leave the EU in order to get back… Parliamentary sovereignty! — as a risk to the success of Brexit because MPs could vote against the Article 50 bill.
Is there anything you think people like you, but also journalists, politicians and maybe even citizens can do to prevent the spread of lies and “alternative facts” in Britain alike what is currently happening in the US?
“Absolutely. The state of our country, society and communities should not just be left to politicians. It is imperative that we all exercise our civic duty — individually and collectively. Politics is not what happens to us, it affects all our lives so good people need to speak up, or bad things will continue to grow. When lies, twisted truths, alternative facts are allowed to be repeated without challenge then we enter a dangerous place when they are received and perceived as truths. I’m not talking about genuine mistakes or little white lies or exaggerations that are often told to protect others. I’m talking about big, state altering lies.”
“MY OPINION OF POLITICIANS HAS DECLINED.”
A recent opinion poll published by Ipsos MORI shows that politicians are still trusted less by the British public than estate agents, journalists or even bankers, whilst scientists, judges, teachers and doctors are the most trusted professions. What happened to Michael Gove’s famous rant that “People in this country have had enough of experts” when interviewed by Sky News’s political editor Faisal Islam? It may be more difficult for people to trust politicians when they see them asked live on TV whether they could run for their party leadership and they answer “Count me out”, then a couple of weeks later they launch their very leadership bid…
Has your opinion on British politics changed since the Article 50 case started?
“My opinion of politicians has declined even further than the low levels revealed by their complete lack of interest in our True and Fair Campaign that aimed to stop the rip off fees and opacity in the world of investments and pensions. The fact that I had to bring the case because I didn’t believe politicians would challenge the government for behaving as if they were above the law, and could sidestep Parliament says it all.”
IMMORAL PRESS: “THEIR VENOM SHINES THROUGH IN THEIR ARTICLES.”
Immoral press? What immoral press? Most Brexiteers and their supportive media networks claim that freedom of speech and freedom of the press in this country mean that it is alright to call High Court judges “Enemies of the people” and talk about their private life. It is fair game for newspapers to meddle with their readers opinion with headlines such as: “The South-American born former model and her ‘arrogant’ bid to derail Britain’s democracy” or “Outrageous expat group People’s Challenge wants to derail Brexit” and either go personal or dig to find any dirt.
What would you say about the press and the way they portrayed you and the case? I am sure you did expect the media attention, but did you expect to be the target of personal attacks?
“After the Leveson Inquiry I thought the integrity of certain parts of the press would improve. Unfortunately, there are still certain journalists who seemingly refuse to follow their own journalistic principles, and refuse to report news in a balanced and responsible fashion but are willing to simply destroy the reputation of anyone whose opinions differs from their bosses. I’m glad to say that these journalists are in the minority and their venom shines through in their articles, thereby making many readers question the overall tone of these biased articles. There is no excuse for crossing the lines of decency by flagrantly inciting sexual and racial hatred.”
“FOREIGN BORN BORIS JOHNSON”
Remember the petition by a Guilford Tory councillor demanding that “Opposing Brexit should be made TREASON and punishable by LIFE in prison”? With Number 10 stopping short of condemning it at a press briefing at the time, it is not difficult to understand why people started to send abusive tweets and online threats to Gina Miller and Remain politicians from all sides of the political spectrum. The Guildford councillor explained: “Brexit must not be put at risk in the years and decades ahead.” Gina Miller also received racist comments related to her place of birth, most recently illustrated by a caller on LBC radio who claimed that she shouldn’t be allowed to challenge Brexit “because she’s not British”. In fact, for the hard-core Brexiteers, with the unconditional proxied and shadowed support of the Brexit elite, anything was good to attack not Gina Miller’s message, but Gina Miller, the messenger.
Do you think the press is ultimately responsible (or actually… irresponsible) for the threats you received by email and on social media, because of the way they portrayed you? Or do you think the individuals are sole responsible for their own actions behind their keyboards?
"Certain members of the press have definitely stoked the fire by the tone and language they used. For example, my birth-place has been reported in a distorted and misleading way to emphasise that I was “foreign born” (Gina Miller was born in 1965 in Guyana — British Guiana at the time of her birth, as the country achieved independence from the UK in 1966 — but was educated in Britain.) and positioning me as acting against the “will of the British people” without reporting the facts of the case. I have never read a headline in the same publications that refers to the “foreign born Boris Johnson” (Boris Johnson was born in 1964 in Manhattan, New York City — the United States achieved independence from the UK in 1776 — he too was educated in Britain.) One journalist actually suggested I should be burned at the stake. It is hardly surprising that when the often-unmoderated comments under such articles appear, they become a feeding frenzy of hatred.”
What would you say to (bitter) “columnists” or “journalists” like the Daily Mail’s Ruth Sunderland who, although the case is now over, keep on writing about you things like: “What’s the truth about Gina Miller? A loss-making company. False claims about a law degree. And critics who say she’s a shameless self-publicist”or Sara Vines with her: “Gina’s no martyr: She’s a pushy Posh Mum. She is almost Mitford sisters-like in her ability to misunderstand and patronise ordinary citizens”?
“These journalists maybe of their own free will or the result of caving in to editorial pressure, have decided to forsake their principles and weave stories that challenge the boundaries of decency, truth and legitimacy. Of course, these are often crafted in such a way as to enable their venomous suggestions to bypass the laws of defamation or their own newspaper regulator guidelines. I have been told that was / is a concerted plan to try to break me so I would either drop my case, as I was the only client, or make me hide so they could say whatever they liked to discredit me and my case. Their actions had the opposite effect. I do not need or crave the endorsement of such individuals. I am certain their tactics would dissuade other decent people but I refuse to be bullied by them.”
“I WOULD DO IT ALL OVER AGAIN…”
On 24 January 2017, the Supreme Court dismissed the Secretary of State’s appeal against the decision of the High Court that the ministers did not have power to give Notice of the decision of the UK to withdraw from the European Union without the Parliament’s prior authority. The Supreme Court held that an Act of Parliament is required to authorise ministers to give such notice. Because Gina Miller successfully challenged the Government in court, the Parliament is currently going through the readings, debates and votes of the Government’s Brexit bill.
After about six months of preparation for the Article 50 case, your hard work defending the case at the High Court, then at the Supreme Court, and the media attention from all over the world… Would you say that it was all worth doing? Would you do it all over again?
“My legal team and I did not ever envisage the case would go to the Supreme Court. We were shocked when the Government decided to appeal the clear cut and universal decision of the High Court. The personal abuse, cost and commitment has had its toll but I would do it all over again. Parliamentary democracy should not be dictated to by Government edict or political fiat, and no Government is above the law. The PM was wrong to ignore two of the fundamental tenets of the UK’s unwritten Constitution, sovereignty of Parliament and independence of the judiciary and I would fight to uphold those especially in the face of a farcical opposition.”
“MORE CONSULTATION ON DOG FOULING AND STRAYS THAN IN THE ARTICLE 50 BILL.”
What do you make of the Commons debate and vote on the Brexit Bill after all the effort that you put in your end? (Especially as Theresa May defeats all amendments brought by her opposition and finally gets to trigger Article 50.)
“I am hugely saddened that MPs have not taken the opportunity to properly scrutinise the Government’s exit plan. Whilst I appreciate that many feel between a rock and a hard place, they should have been able to vote in secret and along the lines of their conscience. Kenneth Clarke has emerged as the wise sage, and I wish others had followed his lead. A binary promise is not just that a promise. It is not scrutiny and it is not legally binding. I do not understand how clever, principled cross-party politicians can allow the Government to treat them in this way. What the government had offered is a binary vote that could leave Britain between the devil and the deep blue sea. It appears that there was more consultation and discuss around Part 6 of the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005 which deals with Dog Fouling and Strays than has occurred in the Article 50 Bill.”
“I WILL ALWAYS STAND UP FOR ORDINARY PEOPLE.”
Taken that the case is now over, what should we expect from Gina Miller from here? Low profile, some time off the media or will you capitalise on your “high profile” to get into more activism or even get involved with politics?
“I will always stand up when I see wrong or ordinary people being ripped off. The UK public continues to be ripped off by many of the largest and so called trusted brands operating in the investment and charity space. Believe me, I will not rest until the trust that the public puts in the companies which manage their savings and investments, and those that manage many of the UK’s largest charities, is repaid in actions rather than empty words.”
TO THERESA MAY: “STAND UP FOR ALL THE BRITISH PUBLIC AND THEIR BEST INTERESTS.”
If she was all ears, listening to your advice on Brexit, what would you tell Theresa May?
“I would tell Theresa May to stand up for all the British public and their best interests rather than a desire to listen solely to the Loony Tunes minority within her own party. The public voted to leave the EU, it did not vote for financial destruction simply to avoid court cases being heard by the ECJ. It would be better if the PM were more focused on prioritising other issues above this one, for example the overall financial and social care interests of the all of the UK population.”
GINA MILLER'S NEW BREXIT FIGHT.
And indeed, if Jeremy Corbyn's Labour party doesn't wish to oppose the Government on Brexit, Gina Miller is standing up again. She has recently warned ministers there could be a new Brexit court battle if Parliament is not allowed a final vote on exiting the European Union, after the Brexit negotiations. To that effect, she has just launched a website, Campaign2018.org, with an Open letter / online petition she hopes can build a movement to demand a final vote on Brexit. It reads:
"As citizens of the UK, we have written an open letter to Parliament requesting that the Brexit Bill be amended to allow Parliament a full vote on the outcome of the negotiations, eighteen months from the triggering of Article 50 which will begin the formal process of the UK leaving the EU. The letter was published in The Times on 20 February 2017, and if you believe this is the right course of action, please sign-up and join this call for common sense."
Gina Miller has already defeated twice the Government in court. If you ask, she will certainly tell you she is ready to win again.
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J.N. PAQUET is an author, journalist and political writer. He is the editor of PoliticsMeansPolitics.com. His book series on populism and nationalism “The Tip of The Populist Iceberg?” is available in print, eBook and audiobook worldwide.