Gina Miller made waves when she brought the government to court to demand parliamentary authorisation for the triggering of Article 50Louis Ashworth

British politics today is more divided than it has been since the 1970s, having seen two divisive referendums and the re-emergence of hard ideological divisions between left and right. It is perhaps strange then, that among the new faces thrown up by this wave of populism and emotionally-driven politics is one that embodies its antithesis.

Gina Miller cuts an interesting political figure. With her emphatic defence of rule of law, deliberative government, and evidence-based policy, she can be firmly placed within a tradition of technocratic liberalism which runs from J.S. Mill to Tony Blair and which today could barely be less fashionable.

The nuance of this heritage was lost on the UK tabloids, however, to whom Miller has become a folk devil. After emerging as the lead claimant in the Brexit Supreme Court case – which forced the government to seek parliamentary authorisation for the triggering of Article 50 – Miller drew the ire of the right-wing press, who launched a series of scathing attacks on her personal and professional life, caricaturing her as a ‘shameless publicity seeker’. This subsequently drew further racists and sexist attacks online, including threats of beheading and assassination which led to a number of arrests.

“It was a deliberate strategy to literally destroy me and ransack every part of my life”, Miller told me before her talk at the Union Society. Yet she remained steadfast, dead set on ensuring the political process was properly adhered to, telling me: “when things are overtly emotional that’s when the rule of law really comes to the fore, and can become a stabilising force in society”. A daughter to Guyana’s former Attorney General, who set up a political party to fight against the country’s dictator, Miller holds that “voice, conscience, and action” are the three things which are truly one’s own, and should not be surrendered lightly.

“I don’t believe that the system we have of representative democracy is broken, I think we have the wrong people in it”

Gina Miller

When I ask her if she takes pride in being ‘the most hated woman in Britain’ she smiles, “I’ve always been a very positive person, and so I take that I must be doing something right because they’re not necessarily attacking my arguments, they’re attacking me”. The maliciousness of this newfound attention has clearly taken its toll, however: “it’s not a comfortable place to be because of the personal price and the price my family, and my businesses, and everything has to pay”.

Yet even the more banal press criticism mischaracterises Miller, who maintains that “we’re all Brexiteers now”, in a number of ways. Responding to the allegation of being a spotlight seeker, she notes that her becoming the figurehead of the court case was a complete accident – the main complaint being chosen by the Judge, Lord Leveson. When I ask her if she had brought the suit because she felt nobody else would she is emphatic: “That was exactly it”. Later, in a criticism of the opposition, she notes “I should not have had to bring my case”.

Miller describes herself as a 'conscious capitalist'Louis Ashworth

Her commitment to process is no duplicitous posture either, but a principle which has defined most of her career. A fund manager by profession, since 2012 Miller has run the True and Fair Campaign with her husband Alan, which calls for more transparency within the City’s fund management industry and campaigns against mis-selling and hidden fund charges. In 2015, she published a incendiary report criticising the charity sector for not spending enough of the money raised on good causes. Until the Brexit case, Miller’s political involvement has been limited to providing technocratic advise relating to these sectors, including drafting text on financial services in the 2015 Labour Party manifesto and three EU directives.

Yet contrary to the stereotype of such technocratic elites, Miller’s does not pour scorn on a racist or uneducated population, but a self-seeking and improvident elite. Discussing the lack of respect afforded to parliamentary sovereignty, Miller argues “this didn’t just happen over night; it has served politicians of all colours, of all parties; it served their purpose to ignore process, ignore scrutiny, to ignore transparency… it’s allowed them to create scenarios by which they can excuse their failures because that scrutiny is not there”.

Indeed, rather than a serious and worthy discussion of the issues, Miller sees the EU referendum and the subsequent Brexit debate as stemming from a series of political miscalculations, resulting in a lack of clarity about the options on the table: “if you’re going to say to people, this is is what we’re thinking of – soft Brexit, hard Brexit, clean Brexit, dirty Brexit, whatever it is – you must have some detail, those are empty words otherwise. Because how can you expect people to make up their minds if they have no detail.”

“It was a missed opportunity during the referendum campaign to give any detail, it was a missed opportunity once I’d won my case to go back to parliament for the MPs to debate and put that detail, and there was yet another missed opportunity in the white paper.”

Miller is in no doubt that Brexit is happening, and has no time for appeals to the legally advisory nature of the referendum. “In the minds of those who voted”, she says, “in their minds it was not advisory… what I’d like to do is to push the detail, to explain what the options on the table mean”.

Having stumbled into political relevance, Miller seems intent on carving out a space for herself as a trusted voice from outside of politics; a calm, pragmatic voice offering points of information and practical suggestions.

I suggest to her that the cause might be served by changing the media, but she is skeptical of the benefit gained from such an expensive venture, suggesting that what’s more important is reaching out across existing media: “I think there’s a lot of work to be done to reach out and have a conversation that shows people all sides of the argument… there was a Brexit convention organised by Henry Porto, but everyone in the audience were Remainers anyway, so what did it achieve?”

“One of the things i’ve found that I’m capable of doing is to answer questions and be bold enough to put it out there so that the politicians can follow. For example, I was the first person on Friday morning [after the election] who came up with the idea of a cross-party committee, and everyone said it would not happen. By today it is the norm, everyone is talking about it”.

“The Remain side was so arrogant”

Gina Miller

Indeed, Miller finds a great deal of hope in the result of the hung parliament, though her disappointment at the failure of the liberal democrat surge – “it’s a real shame” – and the collapse of the Green vote – “a real tragedy” – may indicate less happiness about the composition of that opposition. Yet, for such an apparently practical individual, Miller’s hope for what will happen next seems incongruously naive.


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Believing that May is now “prime minister in name only”, and one lacking in the innovation and creativity needed for Brexit at that, Miller hopes not only for a return to cabinet government, but a cross-party delegation (not including May) to hammer out a deal with the EU. The suggestion has the whiff of fantasy football, as she rattles off her dream team including Vince Cable, Kier Starmer, David Davis, Phillip Hammond, Caroline Lucas, and representatives from the devolved powers.

Despite this flirtation with the utopian, Miller soon returns to her skepticism of the ability of the political class to avoid politicking. “I don’t believe that the system we have of representative democracy is broken, I think we have the wrong people in it”, and it is clear that Miller extends this criticism to her own side.

“The Remain side was so arrogant” says Miller, complaining of the infighting within pro-EU groups, “too many people with big egos are unwilling to put their country first”. In her speech to the Union, Miller reveals that one major figure in British politics (one suspects Blair or Ashdown) had intended to launch a new party on the 14th of June but was scuppered by the unexpected election result.

It is clear that Miller cherishes her independence of mind, and does not intend to give it up any time soon. Remaining nominally outside politics means that Miller doesn’t “have to toe the party line” and allows her “to be far more direct and far more pragmatic in what I’m saying than politicians seem to be able to do”.

There are many who have found this new era of politics enthralling, who relish the battle of ideas and see themselves as partisans in a fight between good and evil. For these people Miller might seem a cold figure, representing an old way of thinking, the last incarnation of ‘conscious capitalism’, a term she uses herself.

Yet, to those disillusioned with the ideological choice between socialism and conservatism, Miller is a figure of hope in the darkness. While former heavyweights like Blair and Clegg have lost their moral authority by dint of their political record, the fact that Miller, lacking any political baggage, seems able to cut through a hostile public discourse, and liberals should be glad that she shows no sign of stepping out of the ring

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