China Daily

The woman in the firing line of Brexit


Gina Miller has endured months of death threats and racist taunts for her decision to challenge the legal basis of Brexit, and while hopeful of victory on Tuesday, she is not looking forward to it.

“I think next week will be terrible,” she said ahead of the Supreme Court ruling on whether the government or parliament holds the power to start pulling Britain out of the European Union.

For many, the 51-year-old businesswo­man has become a national hero for insisting MPs have the final say. For others, she is the“black widow spider” seeking to frustrate the result of last June’s referendum.

When she first brought the case, just days after the vote that split the country down the middle, Miller braced herself for criticism from Brexit supporters.

“I didn’t expect I would have to change my private life,” said the mother of three.

Tabloid newspapers have dug into her past, she now has bodyguards, no longer takes public transport and keeps her family home at weekends.

Much of the hate mail has been racial, with some questionin­g whether Miller, born in what was then British Guiana and later became Guyana, was even British.

“Things that were considered unacceptab­le are now acceptable,” she said, admitting she is bracing for more abuse next week.

“I’ve even been told I’m a primate. I didn’t know we lived in that place. I think if I would have been a white man it would have been easier.”

But Miller insists she has no regrets.

She makes no secret of her opposition to Brexit — as an investment fund manager, she fears its economic impact — but says: “We lost the vote. We can’t undo that.”

The issue is about limits of executive power. Prime Minister Theresa May believes she has the right to trigger Article 50 of the EU’s Lisbon Treaty, starting the formal departure process, without explicit approval from parliament.

In a ruling in November, the High Court disagreed, and the Supreme Court is widely expected to uphold this in its judgment on Tuesday.

“If we lose we will go back 400 years and I simply don’t believe the judges will do that,” Miller said.

“If a government is behaving this way it creates a precedent. Can you imagine? Any prime minister in the future could just decide with four or five ministers in a locked room.”

Without her legal bid, she believes Article 50 “would have been triggered last October with no plan, and illegally. That’s why I had to carry on.”

She feels it is her duty to speak out and messages of support have also stiffened her resolve.

“I had a 10-year-old boy who drew me my own superhero emblem saying, ‘Go Gina’. I have it on my desk,” she said.

“That gives me strength. Because I’m not invincible.”

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