The United Kingdom voted by a percentage of 52 to 48 to leave the EU in a referendum this summer.
While many millions of people are far from happy about the prospect of Brexit—and not just because of the rising price of making Marmite—few are be as active in trying to do something about it as Gina Miller, an influential London fund manager, who is taking the Prime Minister of the UK, Theresa May, to court in what critics say is an attempt to overturn the process by a legal backdoor.
Miller has emerged as the leading figure in a High Court challenge demanding that May stages a vote in Parliament before invoking the now legendary Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which formally begins the exit process.
Article 50 sets a two-year deadline after which Britain will cease to be a member, unless the other countries of the EU unanimously agree to an extension.
May, who replaced David Cameron as leader of the Conservative party thereby automatically becoming the PM after Cameron was forced into a humiliating resignation following the vote, claims that she does not need Parliamentary approval to trigger article 50—she argues that the referendum result is all the authority she needs.
May recently announced, to loud cheers from the grassroots right-wing of her party at her party conference, that she intended to trigger article 50 in March next year.
No election is technically due until 2020, meaning the UK will be out of the EU by the time it comes around, if May gets her way.
However, if the government were to collapse or resign, an early election would be called.
This is the ‘Bremainers’ best hope.
It is conceivable that a general election could be won by a coalition of parties which made their central policy the undoing of the referendum.
Britain’s electorally insignificant Liberal Democrats are the only party to have currently pledged to explicitly overturn the referendum result.
They won just 8 seats at the last election, but the Scottish National Party—with 54 seats—are violently opposed to leaving the EU, and the issue could just unite the splintered Labour party in the event of a snap general election.
However, there’s one big problem—despite a narrow Tory majority of 16, there is no sign of a government collapse on the horizon.
Therefore delaying the triggering of article 50 is the best hope of many Bremainers, and this, her critics suggest, is Miller’s ultimate aim.
Miller, who has been remorselessly cast as a whining ‘Bremainer’ or ‘Bremoaner’ by the pro-Brexit press, denies this, and has denied her legal action is simply a case of being a ‘bad loser’.
Miller, who previously said she felt ‘physically sick’ at the referendum result, argued in a recent interview with BBC radio that, “we are all leavers now” and that she simply wants MPs to ‘do their job’ and debate the issue before acting (Miller declined to speak to the Daily Beast).
Kasra Nouroozi, of law firm Mishcon de Reya which is acting for Miller, has previously said, “The result of the referendum is not in doubt, but we need a process that follows UK law to enact it. The outcome of the referendum itself is not legally binding and for the current or future Prime Minister to invoke Article 50 without the approval of Parliament is unlawful.”
One high profile Brexit campaigner, former Tory former minister Dominic Raab, accused Ms Miller of, “a pretty naked attempt to steal the referendum by the back door,” telling the BBC, “I think it takes a pretty special kind of arrogance to think that one person’s view trumps that of 33 million.”
Such criticism is likely to be so much water off a duck’s back to Miller, who is widely disliked by the City’s still-powerful old boy network after starting a campaign against hidden fund charges.
Miller, who “sleeps just four or five hours a night”, believes her race and gender have fueled resentment against her. In a recent interview in the Financial Times she revealed that in the City she is nicknamed “the black-widow spider”.
Miller, who was born in Guyana, and is one of a tiny minority of senior women fund managers (just 7% are managed or co-managed by women) told the FT, “That nickname is wrong on so many levels.”
Her husband, Alan Miller is a star fund manager, but is best known for the high-profile divorce battle he waged with his former wife, Melissa, in 2006 in which he disputed a £5m settlement.
In court, Mr Miller’s lawyer claimed it would be cheaper for him to run over his ex-wife than pay the settlement.