Brexit

Woman at vanguard of fight gets death threats

Ms Gina Miller (centre), giving a statement outside of the High Court in London, Britain, on Nov 3 2016.
Ms Gina Miller (centre), giving a statement outside of the High Court in London, Britain, on Nov 3 2016. PHOTO: EPA

LONDON • Just a day after a high court ruled that Brexit cannot happen without the consent of parliamentarians, Ms Gina Miller, the woman who fronted the campaign and brought the case to court, has already faced rape and death threats.

Angry posts on social media calling for her to be killed have surfaced from outraged Brexiters fearful that lawmakers will delay or even thwart Britain's plan to leave the European Union because of Ms Miller's legal action.

The trust fund manager and philanthropist, supported by a group of pro-EU Britons, launched a legal challenge against British Prime Minister Theresa May's use of an executive privilege to trigger Article 50, which formally starts the Brexit process.

"Yes, there has been a deluge of hatred and anger, but this is because people were lied to in respect to the EU referendum, and because irresponsible figures like (Nigel) Farage and tabloid media who lack any understanding of parliamentary democracy and the rule of law that is the bedrock of our civil society," she told the International Business Times after winning the court case.

Ms Miller, 51, is not new to civil activism. The Guyana-born former chambermaid and model, who came to Britain when she was 10, was known as the "black widow spider" in London's financial circles after she campaigned against mis-selling and hidden fund charges in the city's fund management industry.


The three judges who ruled in Ms Miller and Mr Mullins' favour have been swiftly demonised in right-wing tabloids, including the Daily Mail. PHOTO: DAILY MAIL

"I was never binary remain or leave. I was very much of the sentiment, and still am, that it was about remain, reform and review," Ms Miller told The Guardian on Thursday.

"The UK actually has a very powerful place in Europe... and we have not just let ourselves down but I think the whole of Europe down by not taking up that challenge," she said.

One of those who bankrolled the court case was Mr Charlie Mullins, founder of Pimlico Plumbers, who rolled up triumphantly to the court house on Thursday in his Bentley Mulsanne.

  • Article 50

  • WHAT IS ARTICLE 50?

    Article 50 is the part of the European Union (EU) treaty that lays down the procedure for a member to leave the 28nation bloc. It was drafted under the Treaty of Lisbon, which was meant to streamline the bloc's decision-making.

    HAS ANYONE EVER USED IT?

    No. In fact, the treaty's architects never expected it to be used. Although no country has quit the EU before, Greenland, an autonomous Danish territory, left the EU's forerunner entity in the 1980s.

    WHO CAN INVOKE IT?

    A member country that wants to leave. Yet precisely who in Britain has the right to invoke Article 50 is the issue of a legal challenge. Prime Minister Theresa May believes that she can do so without Parliament, under powers known as the royal prerogative. But Britain's High Court does not agree, and it has ruled that lawmakers must be consulted. The government plans to appeal.

    WHAT HAPPENS ONCE IT IS INVOKED?

    Under Article 50, negotiations on withdrawal must be completed within two years. That deadline can be extended, but only with the agreement of all EU members.

    WHAT IF BRITAIN AND THE EU CANNOT REACH A DEAL IN TWO YEARS?

    If there is no agreement to extend the negotiating period, and no deal, then Britain would find itself outside the bloc and without any preferential status with the EU.

    CAN THE PROCESS BE REVERSED?

    The British government says no, and that once it is invoked, Britain will have to leave the union. But several legal experts disagree, including one of the authors of the provision. As yet, this has not been tested.

    NYTIMES .

The self-made millionaire said the business community needed greater certainty going into the Brexit negotiations, and dismissed the government's move to appeal the court decision as "throwing money down the drain".

The three judges who ruled in Ms Miller and Mr Mullins' favour have also been swiftly demonised in right-wing tabloids.

The Daily Mail, in its front-page headline yesterday, called the trio of judges "enemies of the people". It went on to say that one of them was a member of the Euro Law Club and therefore a "committed Europhile", another had charged taxpayers millions of pounds for advice, and a third an "openly gay ex-Olympic fencer".

The attack left a bad taste in more than a few mouths, not least of them that of Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling, who said on Twitter: "If the worst they can say about you is you're an openly gay ex-Olympic fencer top judge, you've basically won life."

Tan Dawn Wei

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 05, 2016, with the headline 'Woman at vanguard of fight gets death threats'. Print Edition | Subscribe