Gina Miller is a dynamic businesswoman, activist and now, a UK political party leader. In 2012, Gina co-founded the True and Fair campaign, and has campaigned on issues as diverse as modern-day slavery, domestic violence, special needs, inequality, social justice, and online abuse.
She is probably best known for taking the Government to the Supreme Court for attempting to implement Brexit without Parliamentary approval and for successfully challenging the government over the prorogation of Parliament in 2019. She has since launched the True & Fair party and will stand for Parliament in the forthcoming election.
Tracy Rolfe : What do you think will be the path and timescale to rejoining the EU?
Under EU law, the UK is now a third country, so it would have to reapply and undergo the whole accession procedure from scratch, under Article 49 of the Treaty of European Union.
Art. 49 states that “any European State” which respects the common EU values and is “committed to promoting them may apply to become a member of the union”. These values include “human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law”. In other words, even though our present Government is lurching to the right, we would still qualify.
On average, it has taken approximately nine years for recent members to join, from submitting a membership application to signing an accession treaty, for example Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, and Lithuania. But our having been members for 40 years would be a huge advantage over these countries. The fact that we have not diverged significantly from EU rules and regulations post Brexit is also beneficial. New border checks on EU imports have been delayed for a fifth time until January 2024, and the requirement for UK manufactured goods to have a UKCA instead of a EUCA mark from 2025 has been scrapped.
In other areas we are actively aligning with the EU: Horizon; aligning with the EU timeline for phasing out petrol and diesel cars; new food standards; and recoupling our electricity trading with the EU.
The question is purely a political one. It took Sweden and Finland only three years from application to the signing of an accession treaty. I see no reason why this time frame is not feasible for the UK, especially as we now have Poland and Ukraine as supporters of us rejoining.
Keith Glazzard : Keir Starmer has identified areas of common interest as the basis of regular consultation between the UK and EU. If Labour wins the next election, do you see any way of extending that idea towards eventual EU membership?
It is very hard to understand Labour’s strategy. The idea that a Labour Government would be able to cherry-pick is for the birds. The integrity of the single market is paramount to the EU. If we were to join the single market, what would be the EU’s incentive to offer us more? We would be in the position of having no say, no input, no vote on any committees, rules, or the future direction of travel. I am not a supporter of this option – especially after speaking to the EFTA members.
If Starmer’s starting point is to utilise the renegotiation clauses in the Trade and Cooperation Agreement that accompanies the Withdrawal Treaty, that would allow sector-by-sector solutions that would be hugely beneficial to the UK and could be a very pragmatic path to rejoining. Bearing in mind the polls are already consistently at between 58% – 63% for rejoin, I’m still unclear what Starmer is waiting for?
David Eldridge : Prior to the last election, you set up a website and conducted a poll encouraging tactical voting against the Conservatives. This time you have set up the True and Fair Party, presumably with the aim of standing against Labour and Conservative and therefore discouraging tactical voting. Please can you explain this change of strategy?
In 2017 when I set up Best for Britain, tactical voting was the right strategy to dent what was looking like a 100-seat majority for the Tories. It also helped our success that there were no other competing or misleading tactical voting sites.
In 2019, the Remain United tactical voting website was aimed at helping people to elect remain supporting, centrist MPs. Unfortunately, the Corbyn effect meant that good people like Monica Harding, Dominic Grieves, Luciana Berger and David Gauke, who we were supporting, all lost their seats. It also did not help that there were several other tactical voting websites that were masquerading as independent but were not.
Since 1998, I and others have been campaigning for reforms to strengthen our machinery of government, to replace our naive ‘good chap’ model of government with codified, legal requirements for those we elect and pay. To bring in wide-ranging but pragmatic constitutional and electoral reforms to modernise our democracy, improve governance, and combat the corruption that has earned us the nickname ‘Londongrad.’
These have been very difficult messages to get across to the electorate. But, after COVID, partygate and the corruption and disgraceful behaviour we have seen in Parliament in recent years, the public can see how broken and rotten our system is. People are thinking ‘they are all the same’ and feeling politically homeless. That the system is rigged with no redress, no matter how scandalously politicians behave. The sentiment of ‘them and us’ is becoming widespread, resulting in the apathy that we have already seen in recent by-elections, leading to very worrying low voter turnout figures. It is to the people who are saying “none of the above”, who abhor the status quo, that the True & Fair Party is offering a new choice.
Steve Wilson : Assuming you succeed in becoming MP for Epsom and Ewell, what will be your first order of business?
The national policies I would be relentlessly vocal about are enshrining the prerogative [powers in law (we cannot have a Prime Minister with largely unfettered powers); proportional representation; and rejoining the EU. Locally, a completely new vision for high streets and city centres: bringing health, well-being and community hubs into the High Street.
Helen Johnston : A new petition calling for a general election is gaining enormous support. What are the pros and cons of an early versus a later election date and do you think the timing would make a difference to the scale of the Conservative loss?
There are so many rumours and theories going around that it’s very difficult to tell what will happen.
Now that the Conservatives have repealed the Fixed Term Act, Sunak can call an election whenever he feels inclined to do so. The current Parliament first sat on 17 December 2019 and will automatically dissolve on 17 December 2024, with polling day expected to take place 25 days later (excluding bank holidays and weekends).
There are many factors Sunak will be weighing up, including:
Inflation is 6.7% today and is likely to carry on decreasing. The Bank of England expects inflation to fall to around 5% by the end of 2023, then to keep on falling during 2024 and reach its 2% target in the first half of 2025. The Government will claim it is their success, though this is largely not true. But there are still upside risks to the inflation outlook, likely reflecting recent stickiness in core inflation, meaning people will still be feeling it in their pockets.
The combination of falling inflation, and a budget with tax cuts and other fiscal bribes, could see Sunak call an election in May, maybe rolled up with the local May elections as they have done in the past. This has these huge political advantages for the Tories:
It stops the fractional infighting (‘lancing the boil’ as senior Tories have relayed to me) and allows them to rebuild their party in opposition sooner rather than later.
Local elections in May are expected to result in the Conservatives losing hundreds of seats and councils, and the London mayoral elections, which would be disastrous.
Sunak would avoid being replaced (several people are circling to take over – Braverman, Farage, Badenoch, Mordaunt – even Truss!) ahead of a late general election.
It would stop the haemorrhaging of supporters and members to the Reform Party.
I’m told another phrase being used by the Tories is ‘damage limitation’. They expect to limit losses, or at best scrape through, if they go early, do a pact with Reform UK (looking at the last two by-elections such a pact would have resulted in the Conservatives holding on to both Tamworth and Mid-Bedfordshire) and don’t allow Labour time to spell out their policies.
The other view is that the election will be called at the end of the short Parliamentary sitting next September, with the election in late Autumn. As you will recall at all the Party conferences this year, the repeated message was these were the last conferences before the next General Election. The financial assessments are that the worldwide picture will be better in autumn 2024. If America reduces interest rates, it’s likely Europe and Britain will follow, so an autumn 2024 election is economically more attractive.
This timing also has the advantage of being after a long parliamentary summer recess, when there is no real scrutiny and people are less politically engaged over summer, and a low turnout, which would help the Tories.
The disadvantages are that migrants’ Channel crossings are likely to rise over the summer, while the mortgage crisis may deepen as more people face the end of their current fixed rates around summer.
Tony Isaac : Is there any way that the Conservatives could turn things around and win the next election?
See my answer above but, in essence, yes. The maths here is important. For Labour to have even a one seat majority, they need to win 124 seats. For a stable majority of 30 they need to win 153 seats. If the by-election swings are not replicated at the general election (historically the case), there is no Tory/Reform UK pact, Labour and LibDems don’t have an agreement in certain crucial seats, Labour do not win back the seats they need in Scotland, and voter apathy remains at the levels our True & Fair polling is finding (with turnout in the low to mid 30% range), the Tories could hold on to power. Every seat matters.
Lisa Burton : Previously you have spoken about MPs having contracts of employment, which makes sense and would allow a lot more accountability. Do you think any of the other parties would consider backing it?
The simple answer is no. The main three parties would not back many of the policies, the political reforms, that we at True & Fair believe are essential to strengthening our democracy and making it fairer. These include no second jobs including media shows), reforming the House of Lords to be a purely secondary chamber providing oversight, electoral reforms such as compulsory voting, reforms to political advertising and media ownership. They are even resistant to putting the Nolan Principles onto a legal footing. This was a major factor in my decision not to stand for Labour or the LibDems.
Valerie Chaplin : We are all working together to encourage more people to join the Rejoin movements and are struggling to engage the younger generation, especially as Brexit and the loss of freedom of movement, Erasmus etc. affects them the most. How do we resolve this?
Our experience is that young people are very exercised about Brexit and the damage being done to their options, opportunities, and security. If you strip out the over-45s from rejoin polls, over 70% of people under 45 want to rejoin. It is an utter betrayal of the younger generations by the main parties that they talk about rejoining being for future generations. How much more damage do they need to see? How many young people will they sacrifice with their cowardly leadership?
We engage with more young people than many other parties do, and they tell us they don’t feel anyone cares about them, that they have no voice, no representation. We have to find a different narrative, to emotionally engage with them, find different channels of communication. It was very evident at the recent National Rejoin March in London that our movement must pursue other ways of reaching young people. A very practical strategy is to get young people to speak to other young people.
If you, your family or your friends live in the Epsom, Ewell and Leatherhead constituency, and would like to help Gina out with her campaign, she would welcome your support on the ground. You can make contact with Gina’s team via her website – just click on the Volunteer button.
Annette Dittert is a German author, filmmaker, correspondent, and journalist and regular commentator on British politics. She has worked for ARD German TV since 2001, as a war correspondent in Poland, a senior correspondent in New York, and since 2008 as bureau chief in London. In 2019, Annette was awarded the title of “political journalist of the year” for her reporting on Brexit.
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