With just days to go until voters make a stark choice about Britain’s future on December 12, The London Economic talked to Boris Johnson’s nemesis, the transparency campaigner Gina Miller.
Gina Miller’s Remain United tactical voting website is offering constantly updated polling advice for the country’s voters, the latest research from their polling partners revealing tactical voting would make all the difference in stopping a Tory majority.
Speaking to The London Economic, Gina Miller revealed what she believes is at stake. Boris Johnson’s court room adversary warned his government plan a massive erosion of the powers of the courts and other democratic checks and balances on Number 10. Together with a Conservative commitment to redraw constituency boundaries that could give them an unassailable majority.
She called Tory plans “an autocratic power grab.”
And Miller gave a chilling warning of the dangers of a lack of scrutiny of Boris Johnson’s plans to the British economy.
“It’s in black and white in the withdrawal agreement, the political declaration, in conjunction with what’s in the Conservative manifesto and the signing of the pledge by the 650 Conservative candidates,” explained Gina Miller.
“The pledge they have had to sign is an extraordinary price to pay for standing for election and leaves any Conservative MPs elected nodding dogs rather than people able to stand up for the country and express various principles and integrity.
“What we are facing if you go on what the Government has said and what’s in the agreements with the EU is the pursuit of a bare bones Brexit with a time limit of the end of next year. If that is not possible then when July comes and the EU review with the UK whether there has been progress, no-deal will be back on the table.
“This is what we are heading towards without any opportunity for scrutiny or transparency – because the other thing in the withdrawal agreement and the manifesto is a power grab by the government.
“In the withdrawal agreement there are seven clauses that talk about giving the Government more Henry VIII secondary legislation powers. In the manifesto on page 48 there are details of them looking to reform the House of Commons, the House of Lords, prerogative powers, the courts.
“They will no longer have the power to hold the Government to account. This is extremely worrying when you look at the direction of our country and democracy. And that I think is what’s at stake on December 12,” explained Gina Miller. “It will be a watershed moment.”
“If you then look at the Government bringing in boundary changes which many people have forgotten about, which favour the Conservatives by many seats, then we are looking at almost an autocratic government for the foreseeable future where the central pillar of parliamentary sovereignty has been diminished, where the power of the courts and the House of Lords has been diminished as well.
“You have a much more overarching, powerful executive and Prime Minister.”
“Boris Johnson knows lots of languages, but the one he seems to struggle with is the truth”
These aren’t the only documents troubling Gina Miller. Remain United have been studying the leaked dossier of trade negotiations with the US redacted by the Government, but revealed by Jeremy Corbyn.
Gina Miller does not trust the Prime Minister’s assurances that the NHS is not “up for grabs.” Miller warned that the dossier reveals “discussions on selling off NHS patient data that is extremely valuable.”
“It doesn’t surprise me. When you think back, there have been documents and manifestos written and co-authored by Conservative MPs like Dominic Raab, Kwasi Kwarteng and Liz Truss about privatising parts of the NHS,” said Miller.
The investment company founder and transparency campaigner also warned that the UK would find it difficult to withstand US demands in a trade deal after leaving the EU.
“We will be the small fry – no longer part of a big block,” said Miller, “so small compared to the might of the US. It will not be a negotiation among equals.”
And what of the PM’s “cast iron guarantee” that the NHS is not for sale?
“He’s very good at giving ‘cast iron guarantees,’” said Miller, rolling out a list of just some of the ones that haven’t aged well:
“Well he gave a ‘cast iron guarantee’ that we would leave on October 31. He gave a ‘cast iron guarantee’ the actual night before he announced the prorogation of parliament that he wouldn’t be proroguing parliament. He was going to lie in front of a bulldozer to stop another Heathrow runway.
“Boris Johnson knows lots of languages, but the one he seems to struggle with is the truth. I find it extraordinary that people aren’t picking him up on this more.”
Johnson’s ‘oven-ready Brexit’ more like ‘an egg in a microwave’
And what about the Conservative Party election slogan of “getting Brexit done” to concentrate on other issues?
Boris Johnson’s “getting Brexit done” is “mis-selling,” explained Miller who in 2012 set up the True and Fair Campaign to limit financial sector mis-selling through greater transparency.
She added: “Brexit will not be done when Boris Johnson says it will. It is only the first part of a very difficult process. The average time for a trading deal is between five and seven years. I know the Government are saying ‘we are starting from the same place,’ but the fact is they are making plain that we are diverging so why would the EU treat us exactly the same?”
And as for Johnson’s other soundbite – “an oven-ready Brexit,” Gina Miller finds a more appropriate analogy is the mess of “an egg in a microwave.”
“Of all the lies that Boris Johnson has told in his life, a regrettable habit that’s so far caused him to forfeit two jobs, one wife, innumerable girlfriends and various family members, the most egregious of them all is his insistence that his ‘oven-ready Brexit’ will put an end to all of the woes associated with this hugely complex project,” said Miller.
“The truth is, it’s more like an egg in a microwave, with his plan exploding and taking a lot of clearing up. It will simply mark the beginning of a new and much more harrowing phase of this never-ending story.”
Britain still faces the spectre of a no-deal Brexit
This week Boris Johnson and other senior Conservative figures have refused to rule out crashing out of the EU with no deal, despite the legislation of the last parliament. Miller insists that the spectre of a no-deal Brexit remains very real for British businesses.
“This will mean that politicians in the United Kingdom – assuming it remains united – will have little or no time to pursue domestic policies they’ve so scandalously neglected since talk of a referendum to leave the EU began in 2013,” warned Miller.
“For businesses the length and breadth of the kingdom, ‘Brexit uncertainty’ will translate into the certainty that the worst possible outcome will become reality. No-deal is still on the table.”
There are two main reasons to worry about a no-deal eventuality for Gina Miller: “The money men behind the Conservative government have an agenda which is a low regulation ‘Singapore light’ – an agenda which is nothing to do with Brexit.
“They are business owners and investors who believe there is too much regulation, too much health and safety, working plan directive, money laundering checks that have hampered their ability to profit.
“Secondly, I am still shocked by how little this government seems to understand how intertwined we are with the EU and the true impact of what would happen and this naivety that we can just flip over to WTO rules. We can’t just walk away from one set of rules and into another.”
Gina Miller also warned of the worries of British businesses that the Government lacks “the competency” to understand the consequences of Boris Johnson’s Brexit soundbites.
“There will be an impact on trade and the 142,000 small businesses that only deal with the EU. We know that only 33,000 of those have done the paperwork and are registered,” explained Miller. “There will be an impact on trade and business – be it for increased administration, increased tariffs and just-in-time businesses.
“But the United Kingdom is an 80% services economy and there is no clarity on how these services will be operating in the future. What we do know is £13 trillion of business has already left the UK across the city. We have no clarity on what’s called passporting or anything to do with financial services in the city. And the other sectors in Britain’s massive services sector are none the wiser.”
‘Death threats have changed our lives’
So why is there not more of an uproar about Brexit from businesses?
“I run an investment company and the city and business world has stayed quite quiet on this,” explains Miller. “There is a naivety that many thought the government would sort things out, that there would be some competency there. And there is a very fragile environment where you are worried that 52 or 48% of your client base may be one side of the argument or the either so there are corporate decisions across sectors not to speak out.”
And Gina Miller is determined not to be cowed by the threats and flak she has endured for sticking her head above the parapet to fight for Parliament’s right to scrutinise all this. It’s not just vicious attacks in sections of the media, there have been a dozen police investigations into threats to Gina Miller and her family.
“Everything has changed, I now live with permanent security. I have had one [Viscount St Davids Rhodri Philipps who among other abuse posted “£5,000 for the first person to ‘accidentally’ run over this bloody troublesome first generation immigrant” on Facebook] go to prison; there was a Go Fund Me page where they tried to raise money to hire a hitman to kill me. There are threats on my children being taken all the time. Having to show them all the security procedures is pretty harrowing. Every single part of our lives has changed.”
I asked Gina Miller what she thinks of the divisive and racist language used in the current febrile political climate, and the consequences felt by ordinary people. – For example former Tory party chair Baroness Warsi’s warning that after Boris Johnson’s comments about Muslim women, there was a spike of racist attacks on them.
“I call it weaponising language. Politicians are very aware of what they are doing as by weaponising language you create division and the old saying is ‘divide and conquer,’” said Miller who received thousands of racist tweets since her court challenge to give Parliament a say over Brexit.
“But the problem is the human price, for example, me, my family, people like me have to pay. At some stage I have to consider if it’s too high, because I literally think that every day something could happen to me and my family and that’s not a normal way to live.”
How tactical voting can change the course of the election
Yet Gina Miller is determined “the bullies” won’t win. She is still optimistic that voters can foil the prediction of a Conservative majority trumpeted in most of the media. Though it depends on using reliable data about their constituencies and the best placed candidate to beat one of the 650 Conservative candidates who have signed Boris Johnson’s pledge.
The resolute transparency campaigner together with polling experts have set up Remain United’s tactical voting website using national and constituency polling with large sample sizes and polling of tactical voting intent too, updated throughout the election ( More on the methodology).
According to their calculations, just a 2% swing would stop the predicted Conservative majority.
“Because of the first past the post system, tactical voting has been part of the electoral landscape for some time and particularly used to great effect in 1997 and in 2017,” explained Miller.
According to Remain United’s latest survey, 45% of voters who favour remaining in the EU or a more orderly Brexit than Boris Johnson’s hard Brexit are considering tactical voting, and if that many vote tactically to defeat Conservative candidates, Boris Johnson’s predicted majority will be defeated.
“Green voters we are finding are being the most pragmatic and understanding that in some seats switching their votes could be instrumental in defeating the Conservatives,” revealed Gina Miller. “They are putting the country first I’d say.”
Gina Miller believes the Conservatives would be punished a lot more if the remain vote was not “shamefully split” between Labour and the Liberal Democrats.
“What is very frustrating is there are several seats where the Labour and Liberal vote is so split that it could let in the Conservative candidate, while if one or the other step down depending on who is ahead, the Conservative would not win,” said Miller.
“It could be a much higher vote share for both Labour and the Lib Dems depending on who stood down.”
In Chingford and Woodford Green, for example Iain Duncan Smith, the ex-work and pensions secretary, is only four percentage points ahead of Labour challenger Faiza Shaheen. The Green Party have stood aside to help unseat the Tory bogeyman, which could happen if only two out of five of those intending to vote Lib Dem instead decide to vote tactically for Labour.
Conservative MP Steve Baker chairman of the hard Brexit championing European Research Group (ERG) is 13 points ahead of his Labour challenger in Wycombe. But if just over half of the 22% of voters planning to vote Lib Dem or Green switch to Labour, Baker could be toppled.
Dominic Raab enjoys a healthy majority of 23,298 in his Esher and Walton seat but according to recent polling he is currently on course to win by fewer than 3,000 votes in the Surrey seat where 58% voted remain. Tactical switching by Labour supporters or a higher turnout among the under-40s could hand the seat to the Liberal Democrats and unseat the former Brexit secretary
Even Boris Johnson could be in danger if supporters of other parties put their differences aside and turn up on December 12 to vote for Labour’s Ali Milani in Uxbridge and South Ruislip.
Gina Miller is adamant that Remain United’s impartial tactical voting advice offers up-to-date information for voters with seven sets of polling throughout the election campaign. She was appalled by our revelations that the Liberal Democrats are sending letters masquerading as real advice from a polling expert to constituencies where they are trailing far behind Labour candidates with genuine chances of beating Tory candidates, claiming only a vote for the Lib Dems can defeat the Tories, while effectively ensuring the Tories win those seats.
She called the letters “extraordinarily scandalous and misleading to the public,” and said the Electoral Commission should tackle the scandal.
And it is clear that the Liberal Democrats’ letters with fake tactical voting advice are being believed and diminishing chances of defeating Conservatives in seats such as Kensington where Labour’s Emma Dent Coad’s majority is just 30 votes.
Gina Miller said that Remain United had been contacted by members of the public who had received such letters and were now questioning Remain United for recommending Labour in seats such as Putney where Labour is the obvious tactical choice.
Just today The London Economic reported Liberal Democrat literature in Jeremy Corbyn’s constituency insisting Islington North is “NOT A SAFE SEAT” despite the Labour leader’s 73% of the vote in the last election.
“People have to make up their mind up whichever way they like, but it must be based on solid, robust information,” insisted transparency advocate Gina Miller.
Will she continue to be Boris Johnson’s biggest nemesis on December 12?
Visit Remain United’s tactical voting site, and more importantly a polling booth on December 12 to find out!