UKIP leader Nigel Farage attempted a withering put-down of Gina Miller on the BBC’s The Marr Show on Sunday 6 November, but it didn’t go very well for him.
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) November 6, 2016
The central lie of the EU Referendum was unpicked by British judges this week, thanks to a woman named Gina Miller. She went to the High Court to clarify the law on who could invoke Article 50, the trigger which kicks off the two-year countdown to Brexit. The result sent the right-wing media and political class into spasm.
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Britain is not a direct democracy. It is a representative democracy. The EU Referendum could only ever be advisory under UK law, because of the sovereignty of parliament. David Cameron sold voters a lemon.
The referendum was always, if we were to operate within the law, to be referred back to parliament. Legal brains have been warning of this since the earliest days of the referendum. As David Allen Green wrote for the FT in June:
The referendum is also not binding as a matter of law. As set out in my earlier post, there is no legal consequence contingent on the result of the vote. The government could have legislated for an immediate legal effect but it chose not to do so. As such the referendum is advisory and not mandatory.
It is not a u-turn, or a shock. It shouldn’t be a partisan issue between Leavers and Remainers. It’s just how the legal system works. Those who feel that we should have direct democracy protocols enshrined in law for future referendum can and should argue for that. But that is separate from accusing judges of being enemies of the people. This isn’t how Farage and the right-wing press responded to the news though. Instead, they reenacted Nazi-era propaganda against the judges, and Gina Miller.
Farage vs Miller
Miller has faced an avalanche of death threats and racist abuse since the ruling, incited by the sort of lurid headlines and pronouncements from Farage and his supporters in media and politics. But when it came down to the two of them on Andrew Marr’s couch, Farage found himself completely out-gunned.
If you’ve ever seen a fight between two cats, you’ll know that it’s the cat that remains most quiet that is winning the fight – the hissing, spitting one tends to end up running away with his tail between his legs. Well, keep that in mind when you watch this exchange.
First Farage tries to bluster past Miller with a gruff, ‘what part of Leave don’t you understand?!’
Miller remains calm, soft-spoken, and responds: “Have you read the case?”
Farage, who plainly hasn’t, then moves on to a totally different question in an attempt to unbalance Miller.
Do you want us to stay part of the single market?
To which Miller replies:
I’m not the politician here. I’m the person who saw the elephant in the room, which is that there is no legal certainty.
You should actually be my biggest fan because I’ve just created the legal certainty so that Theresa May can now, rather than appealing, go ahead, have a debate, and leave.
The UKIP leader is finally forced to admit that yes, the referendum had been only advisory all along.
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