Gina Miller inspires students to stand up for what they believe in
Gina Miller, business owner and lead claimant in the R (Miller) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union case, visited the Perse this week to speak to staff and students concerning the importance of political and legal engagement in world affairs.
Mrs Miller began by detailing her legal history, having worked with companies in the City of London to promote transparency in the financial services sector, with a particular focus on pensions. She also considered new ways of measuring diversity within the City and financial services sector, a mission which she drew upon multiple times in her talk.
Discussing her court case against the British government, Mrs Miller explained her key motivations for taking on a case which others would not take on. She explained how although she was a keen ‘Remainer’, her view was, “Let us remain, but review and reform our membership of the EU.”
Mrs Miller said that although she had her own political bias with what she wanted to happen with the Brexit vote, this did not inform her pursuit against the British government. In her opinion, the Prime Minister did not have the legal grounds to invoke Article 50 and initiate withdrawal from the European Union without an Act of the UK Parliament.
After discussing the intricacies of the case, Mrs Miller spoke about the lasting effects of her action. She spoke of her sole objective, wanting to, “ensure a precedence is set so no Prime Minister can act in this way again.”
Mrs Miller made it very clear that although her case did not invoke the question of whether Brexit itself was right or wrong, she believed the right wing media took it upon themselves to see her mission as solely against Brexiteers, and said the media launched a character assassination upon her personal and professional life.
Mrs Miller spoke about the impact of the horrific sexual and racial violence directed towards her, both online and in person, and what she believed was the media’s role in perpetuating this. Mrs Miller said: “The media should not be allowed to incite sexual and racial violence, and yet they continue to do so.” She spoke of the increasingly problematic stance Facebook and other social media platforms have in reporting incidents of cyber-bullying, harassment and violence, saying, “Facebook would not give underlying data about those people posting abuse”, and she reminded the students that, “this is something we all have to be responsible for.”
For the remainder of the talk, Mrs Miller invited questions from an audience of keen students and staff. At the forefront of her responses, she stressed to students that they must not only speak up for themselves and others, but that they must engage with people who do not share the same views as they hold.
Many of the pupils asked Mrs Miller questions based on how they can best support themselves and their peers politically, and there were a few questions concerning the efficacy of tactical voting. You can hear one of the questions below.