Guyanese anti-Brexit Campaigner speaks of her work

Guyanese anti-Brexit Campaigner speaks of her work

Photo : Gina Miller

A Briton of Indo-Guyanese origin Gina Miller, nee Singh, is opposed to the idea of a second referendum on Brexit – the divorce of the United Kingdom from the European Union. Ms. Miller is known globally as the person who led the campaign in the UK Supreme Court for the British government to get the approval of parliament to break from the EU. She was born in Guyana to Indian parents. Her father, Doodnauth Singh, served as Chairman of the Elections Commission and subsequently as Attorney General.

She was appointed as the lead claimant in 2016 by a London court in the case to ensure that the British government sought parliamentary approval before triggering Article 50, Britain’s formal notification of withdrawal from the European Union (EU).

In an interview in London with a reporter of the Hindu Newspaper, she spoke about the principles that drive her work, Brexit.

Ms. Miller has been a campaigner for over 20 years on varied issues including transparency in the fund management industry, Brexit, and the implementation of the EU’s new regulatory reforms for financial institutions. She told the interviewer Vidya Ram that she is motivated by a desire to shine a light in dark corners of business because “that exposes a lot of the dubious behaviour that goes on”. She also said “there has to be accountability and scrutiny or else we get corruption. You always have to ensure that every industry has a societal responsibility. She said she started out from small local campaigns that build up to big international ones. Ms. Miller said she is driven to do her work because she comes from a political family and a need for justice.

Commenting on her becoming the lead claimant against the government, she was quoted as saying “the court appointed me. I was never supposed to be in this position. Someone from the right-wing press later told me: ‘Gina, the courts gave us the best person they could have, you were an avatar of hate. A woman, coloured, articulate — it was exactly what we needed. A gift”.

She said she faced a lot of right wing hostility and threats to her life but she does not let these derail her work. “I don’t let these get to me”.

She said she has received a lot of support from the public because she gives them hope and their support gives her the strength to carry on. She said if she had to do the campaign again she “would knock on the doors of a few corporations and others to fund me earlier. I thought they’d join in once they’d seen how well we were doing but they were all frightened and they all put their hands in their pockets.  But when it came to taking action, knowing all that I do now... absolutely, I would do it all again”.

Asked if there should be a second referendum, Ms. Miller said, “I don’t think so.” She said “We are now living in a very divided, hostile country. Even if I had a magic wand tomorrow and we could withdraw Article 50, it’s not going to heal this country. We have to think about the bigger picture: the future of Britain is more than Brexit and there are lots of people fighting for ‘remain’ and ‘leave’ who are stuck in the past and don’t realise what the true agenda is now. It’s about saving this country, it’s not about Brexit.”

She said UK will survive [Brexit].  “We will have the downturn, and no one will take the blame, but after that I think the conversations I’m starting to have already is about thinking about politics in a different way. You can’t deal with violence, education, poverty, inequality without joined up thinking and on 3/5-year policy cycles. You need ones that are cross-party and have long-term strategies in place”. She said we have to put people and the country before money and politics.

She said Brexit is very complicated. “I don’t believe politicians or Brexiteers have any grasp of the legal, domestic or international aspects of this, and they will end up being tied up in legislation for years to come. There is also a significant misunderstanding about Brexit: they have an idea that you can stop the relationship and move on, but it’s not moving on. It’s reversing 44 years of integration. They also talk about lowering regulations, but the rest of the world is converging on regulation and they are going down a route the rest of the world isn’t”.