Brexit legal challenger Gina Miller has slammed Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour Party as “not a functioning Opposition” but ruled out her own entry into politics.
Miller, a businesswoman and campaigner who famously took the Government to court over its right to exit the European Union without asking Parliament, was speaking as a last-minute stand-in for hero MP Tobias Ellwood.
Addressing an audience at the annual dinner of Yachad, a British Jewish organisation that opposes the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories, she said she “completely understood” Middle East Minister Tobias Ellwood’s decision to cancel his keynote speech, days after the terrorist attack in London during which he sought to save the life of a policeman who had been stabbed.
“Having been thrust into a limelight you never anticipated, I felt I really had to come up,” she said, of her last minute decision to address an audience expecting Ellwood.
Miller said she challenged the Government in the courts because “nobody else was going to do it… I ask questions when I see something that seems fundamentally wrong and if no-one gives me an answer I carry on asking”.
Miller was represented in her Brexit legal challenge by top barrister and Yachad supporter Lord Pannick, who has previously defended the organisation’s work.
Asked about her decision to engage City law firm Mishcon de Reya and take on the Government, she said: “It just seemed such a basic question. While the leaders were banging on the table about parliamentary sovereignty, at the very same time the Government was about to bypass our parliament, so it just seemed the most obvious first-year Law question to ask.”
She said she was “naïve” and “never thought it would just be me, then when Lord Leveson said Ms Miller will be the lead claimant I was shocked. I thought OK, I’ve been passed this baton, I will carry it, and lots of other people will join me. But every time I looked round there was nobody there”.
Describing how she “knew we were going to win,” she said she thought the legal challenge – begun in June – would be over by September. “I assumed the Government would do what it needed to do. I never anticipated it going past October.”
On the media publicity she received, Miller said “every part of my life has been ransacked,” adding that people had attacked her and her family “for just asking a very simple, legitimate question… What does it say about our society? What does it say about boundaries being crossed?”
Miller appeared to support Yachad’s stance of criticising the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories by saying: “We all need to stand up. We all need to use the things we own, which are our voice, our conscience and our actions because we are what we do, which brings us back to where we are tonight, and that’s why I’m going to carry on doing what I do.”
On her own plans, Miller said: “I’m definitely not going in to politics… But unfortunately for democracy to work we need an Opposition, and we haven’t got a very functioning one at the moment, so I don’t have any intentions of disappearing.”