Campaigner Gina Miller Gives Talk In Chiswick

Packed meeting hears about her life and her role on Article 50 and Brexit


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There was a packed attendance at the George IV last week for the visit of campaigner Gina Miller, who successfully challenged the government's right to leave the EU without the approval of Parliament.

Ms Miller, who was in conversation with the BBC's Jo Coburn, outlined how she became involved in the Supreme Court case when two male campaigners pulled out due to "horrendous abuse".

In November 2016, she privately engaged the law firm Mishcon de Reya to challenge the authority of the British Government to invoke Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, using prerogative powers, arguing only Parliament could take away rights that Parliament has granted. She admitted she was very surprised when Lord Leveson announced that she was lead claimant.

She outlined some of the abuse she has received since the case but said she was able to cope with it because she has survived so many traumas in her life. She has been a victim of domestic abuse, has slept in her car, and has a child with educational special needs.

While her earlier childhood in French Guiana (now Guyana) was one of financial comfort, her father, whom she praised highly, was a self-educated man who became Attorney General, her early life in the UK was difficult. She told of how she had come to the UK from Guyana with her brother, and how aged 14 she lied about her age so that she could work as a hotel chambermaid in Eastbourne, which she did for two hours every day before going to school. This was because her parents were not allowed to send money into the UK.

Gina Miller said that when she originally took the case Brexit was not in the forefront of her mind. It was that she felt strongly about Parliamentary power not being overruled by a Prime Minister using a Royal prerogative. Asked if she had any regrets, she said "No, this is bigger than Brexit."

She said what has shocked her most is that "elected representatives do not understand our relationship with the EU." She had thought the government would be competent. This was a time for vision.

The Brexit issue was paralyzing Parliament and taking time away from the other big issues we were faced with, including the NHS, education, housing, climate change, and the challenges faced by a society that was ageing.

Asked what she thought it would look like if Theresa May agreed to a second referendum, Gina Miller said the tone of the debate would have to be different. She feared it would be divisive and there would be fear and poison.

Her book 'Rise' was not about politics but about hope. She said the more abuse she received the more energized she became. Her nickname in The City was 'black widow spider'. Young people were frightened and they believed they had to be perfect at everything. Her message in Rise was that however broken, everybody can rise.

She had never been interested in running for political office, but her campaigning was to do with transparency and a fight for 'deliberate democracy'. She would encourage people to be active citizens. "It's our world and why shouldn't we be?" It was time to find a new way for politics. The party system was not progressive. However, she did believe the Select Committee system had been successful working across the parties.

In line with her views on transparency in public life, she set up the True and Fair Foundation in 2009, and the True and Fair Campaign in 2012 . Gina Miller has been married three times, and has three children. She was recognised as 'The UK's Most Influential Black Person' by Powerlist in 2017.

The event was organised by The Chiswick Calendar.

March 21, 2019

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