Have you heard of Gina Miller?
If you live outside the UK, the name may not be immediately familiar to you. However, if you live in the UK, and have not been hibernating under a rock for the last nine months, you will recognise her as the woman who had the temerity to single-handedly mount a high court challenge to the Brexit vote – and win.
Of course, it wasn’t quite single-handed. She was represented by a highly experienced team of lawyers from the law firm Mishcon de Reya, and funded by donations from wealthy and not-so-wealthy fellow Remainers.
In winning the case, she didn’t succeed in overturning the Brexit vote – she simply obtained the court’s agreement that the government could not trigger article 50 without Parliamentary approval. Despite the fears of many Brexiteers, the court case didn’t even end up significantly delaying the triggering of Article 50 – Theresa May had said back in July 2016 that she did not intend to trigger it before the end of 2016, and it ended up being triggered on 29 March 2017.
So what Ms Miller achieved was simply a long drawn-out process during which Brexiteers fretted that their democratic will was going to be ignored or overturned, Remainers gleefully hoped that the insane wishes of the electorate would be set aside and replaced by calm Parliamentary decision-making, and two improbably large legal teams racked up what we can only assume will have been hundreds of thousands of pounds in legal fees (both Gina Miller and the government have to date refused to reveal the costs of the case).
The British public at large gained nothing from the case apart from an admiration / loathing of Gina Miller. The only real beneficiaries were the lawyers – and the MPs who, as a result of the judges’ decision, ended up spending two days debating the Article 50 bill before voting to approve it.
You would think that Ms Miller would realise how little she’s gained, and just slink off to count her millions, and find a new project with which to entertain herself.
But no. Instead, in the wake of Theresa May’s decision to call a snap general election, Gina Miller has announced “the country’s biggest tactical voting drive ever” to stop “Extreme Brexit”. She has launched a crowdfunding campaign via the website GoFundMe, which at the time of writing has earned just over £73,000 of its £80,000 goal, from supporters willing to pledge anywhere from £5 to £500 apiece in their desperation to be part of something bigger than themselves – they believe they are being dragged kicking and screaming out of the EU and are willing to cling to any lifebelt that is thrown their way in their determination to stay in.
I do have to wonder, though, how many of them actually know what it is they are donating their hard-earned money to. Having read the synopsis of the campaign’s aims, it appears to me that no clear commitment has been made as to how the money will be spent. According to the campaign website, it will be spent on supporting “candidates who campaign for a real final vote on Brexit, including rejecting any deal that leaves Britain worse off”.
Right, so all it’s doing is promising to fund election campaigns of individual candidates – as yet unnamed as presumably Ms Miller has not yet determined which candidates will be worthy of funding. No mention is made of how individual candidates can apply for funding or how the funds will be allocated. And certainly no mention is made of whether those donating funds will be allowed to ask for a refund if the candidates who receive funding do not ultimately get elected.
Is it just me, or does this sound like a typical EU project? Except instead of Britain being asked to contribute towards the EU budget with only minimal say as to how that budget gets spent, in this case it’s individuals contributing towards a campaign in which they have absolutely no say over what happens to their money – but they do get a warm glow out of feeling that they are still part of something that is bigger than themselves, that they are doing their bit for the cause, even though they don’t appear to understand quite what that cause is. No wonder Europhiles love it – any opportunity to throw their hard-earned cash at a project or institution over which they have no control or oversight, and they’re asking “Where do I sign?”
So I say, carry on Gina Miller! And carry on, all you Remainers who think that your £5, or £20, or £50, is going to help you personally to feel more in control of the process of leaving the EU. In the seven stages of grief, it appears those funding this campaign are very much in the bargaining phase – if giving £50 to a campaign makes them feel as though they’re part of the negotiations, rather than being left on the sidelines with no say in proceedings, then surely it’s £50 well spent. Certainly cheaper than a shrink, at any rate.