Gina Miller’s recent tussle in the law courts over Parliament’s right to vote on Brexit will probably come as little surprise to the investment community. She has campaigned for years on greater clarity and transparency in investment funds, becoming the thorn in the side of fund management houses over the True and Fair Campaign.
Ms Miller said that similar to the True and Fair Campaign, she fought for MPs’ votes on Article 50 because she believed it to be the right thing to do.
She said: “The more I heard [about] the government using the royal prerogative [to trigger Article 50] – I knew what that meant. If it happened with Brexit, we would be setting a precedent, with a handful of ministers deciding people rights, and to me that’s such a fundamental breach of sovereignty.
“I could not understand why nobody was worrying about it. [It is a basic point about the British constitution that] any first-year law student would know about. It’s like the emperor’s new clothes.
“I thought there would be lots of people lining up behind me and it didn’t happen.”
She added: “Everything to do with Brexit is so emotionally charged that nobody was prepared to put their head above the parapet. It’s about doing what’s right; it’s much bigger than Brexit, it’s the fundamental undermining of parliamentary sovereignty, which is the most dangerous thing to do.”
As is well documented, Ms Miller, who is co-founder of investment manager SCM Private, was the lead claimant in a campaign to take a lawsuit to the High Court, arguing that the government’s intention to trigger Article 50, presaging the start of the divorce process, was a breach of the rights of the British public without a parliamentary vote.
The government contested it, saying that Article 50 can be triggered by the prime minister, citing the use of royal prerogative. On 3 November, the three judges hearing the case ruled in Ms Miller’s favour, but such was the sensitivity of the case that the judges went against convention and only informed Ms Miller of their decision in open court, rather than giving her warning beforehand.
She said: “We couldn’t believe what we had heard – all the judges agreed together. We had always hoped we could win, and the courts were independent and ruled purely on law.”
So is she against Brexit? “This is a redundant question,” she said. “Brexit needs to be executed along the letter of the law and along the lines of Parliamentary sovereignty. It is my view that Article 50 should not be triggered until there is a coherent, pragmatic plan in place, one that Parliament can debate, vote upon – then enact primary legislation.”
The fact that Ms Miller upset prevailing orthodoxy is unlikely to be news to the industry’s fund managers. She has run the True and Fair Campaign herself for four years, after launching it with husband Alan Miller.
It is a campaign for increased transparency and scrutiny of the costs involved in the fund management industry to make investment funds fairer for investors. So what was the industry’s response?