An interview with Gina Miller

After the vote to leave the European Union, the news was dominated by the issue of Brexit and the question of what it would do to our country. What will be the impact of Brexit? Gina Miller, a business owner, has her own set of beliefs to what Brexit will do to our country and why we should be able to have a say in Parliament.

But who exactly is Gina Miller?

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Mrs Miller co-founded the investment firm SCM Direct with her husband and also set up the True and Fair Foundation. She is an active philanthropist, involved with helping society. She also believes in conscious capitalism, which means if you are successful, you need to use your money to fight for society. She has always had an entrepreneurial mind-set. For example, as  child, she moved to England for boarding school where she sold candy at an increased price to make a profit. Mrs Miller very kindly agreed to speak to The Oak about Brexit, political campaigning, and entrepreneurship.

How would you sum up the current approach to Brexit ?

I am fearful that there has been very little thinking about the strategies, the economical fall out and the practical implications of how we undo 42 years of membership to the EU, that has affected every single area of British life. What’s even more worrying is that there is no plan, and we don’t have that much time to unravel such a complex infrastructure and 18 months to unravel it, it is unrealistic.

What made you want to fight the government’s handling of Brexit?

The government was on a power grab. In that if states had used this royal prerogative power, that they were saying that they would do to trigger Article 50, this would set a completely new precedent in British constitutional law. This would mean that the Prime Minister and the Executives (selected ministers) could bypass parliament and diminish people’s rights. In my view, this was undoing 400 years of constitutional law and democracy. So I thought, it was right that someone should stand up and ask if they could legitimately do that.

Why do you think the Parliament and the House of Lords should have their say, in two years’ time, on the final Brexit agreement with the European Union ?

The noise I’ve made around this, is that it is not two years’ time but in eighteen months’ time. Parliament, House of Lords, House of Commons must be involved with Article 50, which is firing the bullet from the gun. However, until the bullet hits a target, which will be in eighteen months’ time, when the government initiates package from the European Union, we won’t know the collateral damage and which rights will be lost or diminished. So if you look at the judgment in my case and uphold that, which I would do, If the government does not go back to Parliament, it is only Parliament that can debate, vote and enact an act of Parliament at that stage.

How have you dealt with those people that have been critical of you ?

I have no problem with criticism, as if you push people to think possibly more than they are willing to do or you ask questions that they are not willing to answer, you will always get criticism. I have never had a problem with criticism, but when criticism turns to a lack of decency, into sexual or racial violence, which I have been experiencing and believe to be totally unacceptable. What disappoints me the most is that certain members of the media and politicians have not stood up to say that what is going on is completely wrong. People can have their opinions, but if you disagree with someone, we can’t normalise threats of violence, sexual hatred or racism and allow our society to think that this is normal in any way.

What gave you the idea to create the True and Fair Foundation?

I had started the True and Fair Foundation, as I see myself to be an active philanthropist and involved with helping society. After the financial crisis in 2008, I became concerned that thousands of heroic, most extraordinary, high impact small community charities would be out of funding or presence. The charities that have done the most challenging work in our society would disappear. There are two main reasons why I created the foundation; the first one being to encourage people to give to those small community charities rather than the big charities, that might be less efficient. Secondly, to get people to understand smart-giving and the whole idea that people should get much more involved in adding to their skills, time, energy, knowledge and experience.

What advice would you give young women and men who are interested in entrepreneurship?

My advice for anyone wanting to work in the field of entrepreneurship is that even though it is one of the most hardest thing you could do, being your own boss is possibly one of the most rewarding things to do. This is because you can be as free as you want to be, as innovative as you want to be and as flexible as you want to be. It is hard work, but gives you a lot of freedom and the only person that can stop you is the person looking back in the mirror. You can do or be whatever you want to be and this to me is incredibly freeing. I believe that Brexit will create a lot of problems but there will be an opportunity for young people coming through, to take the opportunity of being innovative. If we look back through our history at post wars, post-civil wars or downturns in economies, it has been the entrepreneurs who have been what I call the renaissance and have built up and been innovative. That’s what we need, we need young people to think differently. The most powerful muscles in our bodies, is our minds and our hearts and if you use both of those to the best of your ability and push yourself through your comfort zone. You can achieve not just for yourself, but for your community around you and that’s a very exciting thing to be able to do.

What is your favourite pastime to do when you’re not working?

I am a complete adrenaline freak, a petrol head and so therefore I drive cars, climb mountains and jump out of helicopters. I was a free climber for nearly 11 years, so have nearly climbed all over the world and my most memorable climb was in Namibia. This is quite odd, but I am also afraid of heights, but this has never stopped me. To be at a place of height on a mountain, with solitude, only the sound of your own breath and the beauty before you, gives you a sense of how small we are and how little time we have and how we must make the most of that. I have also taken my little ones, who were 9 and 10 at the time, to South Africa, where I introduced them to free climbing. They also jumped out of a helicopter at 40,000 feet, but unfortunately my husband does not share the same adrenaline rush as me.

by Leopold de Biolley (1YS)