As Boris Johnson addresses MPs for the first time since his Brexit actions were found unlawful by the supreme court, let’s take a look at everything you need to know about the woman who called him out: Gina Miller.
Boris Johnson is in a lot of bother. The Prime Minister is answering questions today (25 September) for the first time since the supreme court ruled his decision to suspend parliament as unlawful. He’s expected to give a statement to MPs, which should hopefully indicate what the hell happens next.
In the meantime, we have a woman to thank for calling out the PM’s unlawful prorogation actions in the first place: Gina Miller. She is the entrepreneur who was integral in taking the case to the supreme court.
And this wasn’t the first time that Miller challenged – and won against – the government throughout this Brexit fiasco.
Let’s rewind and follow the campaigner’s journey in the run up to the UK departing from the EU.
Who is Gina Miller?
Miller was born in British Guiana (now Guyana) to parents of Indian descent in 1965. After being sent to England when she was 11 years old, she attended an all-girls school in Sussex. Since the age of 13, she has always been in employment, including a part-time stint as a chambermaid while still at school.
Miller studied law at the University of East London but quit after being viciously attacked in the street. Afterwards, she studied marketing at the University of North London, while raising her child as a single parent and working.
She went on to work in marketing before starting a specialist services marketing agency in 1992. Her career sky-rocketed from that moment on and she focused on campaigning for transparency in investment and pension funds with her projects.
Miller co-founded the investment firm SCM Private in February 2009, set up Miller Philanthropy (now rebranded the True and Fair Foundation) in 2009, and established MoneyShe.com as a female-focused investment brand in 2014.
In 2017, Miller was named the UK’s most influential black person and was also number 26 on the Asian power list of most influential British Asians.
Miller came to public prominence when she launched a campaign to “end the Brexit chaos” in 2016.
What is Gina Miller’s involvement with Brexit and revoking Article 50?
Miller launched her first Brexit case when she argued that the government could not invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty without seeking approval from parliament. She gained the support of London law firm, Mishcon de Reya, who agreed to take up the case.
On 3 November 2016, three judges ruled parliament had to vote on when the process could begin. The case went to the supreme court the following December but, by January, 11 judges rejected the government’s appeal by a majority of eight to three.
“It is about any government, any prime minister, in the future being able to take away people’s rights without consulting parliament,” she told press outside the courts. “We cannot have a democracy like that. That isn’t a democracy, that is verging on dictatorship.”
What political party does Gina Miller support?
Although Miller is not officially aligned to a political party, she gave a passionate speech at the Liberal Democrat 2018 party conference and backed their Remain stance.
Miller said the Lib Dems’ “reasonable, sensible, conciliatory” approach to Brexit needed to be heard, more than ever.
“We need statesmen and women doing what they genuinely believe is right for the country – not just reflecting society but shaping it,” she continued.
“None of us is going to be forgiven by these future generations if we tell them we decided just to sit this particular national crisis out, just waited to see what would happen, felt there was nothing we could do or, worse, stayed silent and hoped others would sort out the chaos.”
How did Gina Miller campaign against Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament?
Miller’s second defeat against parliamentary wrongdoing was in the case against Boris Johnson’s decision to suspend Parliament just weeks before the Brexit deadline.
She described it as “a brazen attempt, of truly historical magnitude, to prevent the executive being held accountable for its conduct before parliament”.
Her case challenging the legality of the prorogation was heard at the High Court in September, which was backed by several political parties and former Prime Minister John Major.
Although the high court rejected her case, she was able to immediately appeal to the supreme court. The court ruled in favour of Mrs Miller’s appeal and against the government’s.
The first female head of the supreme court, Lady Hale, read out the statement that Boris Johnson’s prorogation of parliament unlawful.
Speaking outside the court, surrounded by triumphant supporters, Miller said: “This prime minister must open the doors of parliament… MPs must get back and be brave and bold in holding this unscrupulous government to account.”
What does the internet think of Gina Miller?
Miller has become a hate figure online for some staunch Brexiters. In the same month as the Article 50 verdict, police reported that the Met had issued eight “cease and desist” notices to people who had sent Miller threatening messages. And earlier this year, Rhodri Philipps, the fourth Viscount St Davids, was jailed for 12 weeks for directing “extreme racial abuse” at her and offering money to anyone who would run over and kill her.
Speaking to Stylist earlier this year, she said: I’m scared of never seeing my children and husband again. When I get death threats, which is often, this thought alone often reduces me to tears.”
What happens next? We’ll have to wait and see. But making sure the government takes responsibility for its unacceptable actions is one fight that Miller will never give up on.