Gina Miller, Brexit hero



There are many figures in British political life who have had an immense impact on the Brexit process, from the politicians who pushed for a referendum, to the activists and campaigners who saw through the win for Vote Leave. But there is an unlikely figure who, in the aftermath of a comprehensive victory for the Leave side, ensured its full implementation. And that person is Gina Miller.

This may come as a surprise. Gina Miller is well known for a series of court cases which she insisted were only “designed to ensure the will of Parliament was heard”. However we all knew that this sudden affinity for Parliamentary democracy was just part of an establishment revolt against the 2016 EU referendum result. Despite this, I believe that every Brexit supporter should be sincerely thanking Gina Miller, for without her actions, Brexit would have likely been diluted beyond all recognition.

The Supreme Court case R (Miller and Dos Santos) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, took place in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum, as Theresa May’s government was planning to use royal prerogative powers to trigger Article 50 without a vote in Parliament. With Gina Miller’s Supreme Court ruling against the government with a majority of 8-3, this became impossible.

The ruling had vast ramifications for the government. May was forced to table the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill in 2017, in order to trigger Article 50, which was not a problem in itself. But more crucially, the Supreme Court result had prompted Theresa May to state that the government would “put the final deal that is agreed between the UK and the EU to a vote in both houses of Parliament, before it comes into force.” David Davis introduced the Government’s new bill: the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill shortly after. By the time amendments to the bill by Tory Remainers and the House of Lords had been applied, the passing of a Brexit deal was only possible with the explicit approval of the House of Commons.

With Theresa May losing her majority in the 2017 General Election, this put May’s government in a hopeless position. The EU hardened their negotiating stance, sensing an opportunity to reverse Brexit, and May’s resultant capitulation in her desperation to achieve any kind of Brexit produced a deal that was abhorred equally by Remainer and Brexiter politicians. With both sides each opposing the deal on principle, the conditions for a perfect deadlock were set, with May coming nowhere near to passing the deal through the House of Commons on three occasions. 

It is easy to see how that, without the Miller judgement, the Remainer trifecta of Theresa May, Phillip Hammond and head negotiator Olly Robbins could’ve pushed through a “Brexit in Name Only” deal, which would’ve provided a stepping stone to re-entry, or a permanent satellite state status for the UK. Instead the deadlock resulting from Parliamentary oversight resulted eventually in the 2019 General Election, a thorough clear-out of Remainer MPs who had wished to see the referendum result ignored, and a 80 seat majority for a Brexit leaning, Boris-led Conservative government.

However it has recently come to light that Miller’s Supreme Court judgement may have additional ramifications which relate directly to the Withdrawal deal agreed by Boris Johnson. Following alleged EU threats to refuse to list the UK with “3rd country status” (despite the UK continuing to follow EU rules), the government has sought to safeguard the threat of it being illegal to move food from Great Britain to Northern Ireland by passing the Internal Market Bill. The government’s Attorney General released a statement defending the ability of the government to pass domestic law which breached international Treaty obligations: “This principle was recently approved unanimously by the Supreme Court in R (Miller and Dos Santos) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union [2017] UKSC 5”.

So on behalf of all Brexiters, thank you Gina Miller. Thank you for giving Remainers hope that they could “Stop Brexit” – to such an extent that they turned against May’s Brexit-lite deal. Thank you for creating conditions for Parliamentary deadlock to set in, that eventually led to the installation of a genuine Brexit-leaning Conservative government. And thank you for undermining future attempts by the EU to tie us into its rules, or even balkanise the country through bad faith interpretation of the Withdrawal Agreement. Thank you Gina Miller, Brexit hero.

Joel Rodrigues is a writer and Conservative commentator. Follow him on twitter: @Joelrwrites