I'm ready to take Boris Johnson to court over his Brexit threats – here's why
My actions are not an attempt to frustrate Brexit, but to ensure that our democratically elected and taxpayer-funded representatives be permitted to do their jobs
There have been radical, controversial and imperious prime ministers in my lifetime. But even Margaret Thatcher – the so-called Iron Lady – never considered that any single policy was worth the prorogation of parliament.
To even think about this drastic course of action – rendering the House of Commons impotent between the end of one parliamentary session and the beginning of the next, in order to drive through a no-deal Brexit – seems to me to be a clear admission of the utter desperation of Boris Johnson.
He knows only too well his do-or-die pledge to leave the EU by 31 October could see him go down in history as the shortest-serving PM in our history. He must recognise, too, that he cannot win on the arguments on a no-deal and that he has no clear mandate to leave in this way even within his own party, let alone within the whole House and the country-at-large.
Most outrageously, after championing parliamentary sovereignty as he did throughout the referendum campaign and thereafter, he is making it clear he is happy to close it down.
I am re-assembling my legal team, which successfully protected the right of MPs to vote on triggering Article 50, to prevent a Johnson premiership from proroguing parliament. It is we who are championing parliamentary sovereignty, not just paying it lip service.
One of the loudest and most resonating rallying cries of the Brexiteers in the EU referendum was that our parliamentary sovereignty was the jewel in our country’s democratic crown, so I cannot for the life of me understand why these very same individuals would even contemplate undermining it in this flagrant manner.
My actions are not an attempt to frustrate Brexit, but to ensure that our democratically elected and taxpayer-funded representatives be permitted to do their jobs and take back control of the way in which we leave the European Union. It is so the the process is subject to the kind of scrutiny and debate that every other policy must undergo.
Putting aside the immense damage to our safety, prosperity and place on the world stage that a no-deal Brexit would cause, if prime minister Johnson succeeded in proroguing parliament for the specific purpose of over-riding our MPs, this would set a dangerous precedent and fundamentally change the balance of power between parliament, the people and the prime minister. The result would be the biggest constitutional change we have witnessed in hundreds of years, taking our country back to the days before the English Civil War.
Priti Patel, a prominent backer of Johnson, has already accused me of attempting to "tie the hands" of the man she wants to become prime minister, but this overlooks the fact that he wishes in effect to tie the hands of every other MP in the House of Commons, of whom he is no more than first among equals, and a prime minister who would be elected without a clear national mandate.
Even worse, Patel has said that it is not for individuals to go through the courts, which suggests that Brexiteers are now above the law, and, for that matter, the constitution.
Our unwritten constitution has been stress-tested over the past three years in a way it hasn't before in living memory, and, while several of its traditionally strongest pillars are showing signs of strain – our press, police and now our civil service – our judiciary at least has shown no sign of buckling.
I would make the same point now that Lord Neuberger, the president of the Supreme Court, made when the government lost its appeal over my Article 50 case. This is to say that this has nothing whatever to do with whether or not we should leave the EU, or how we should do it, but the eminently more fundamental issue of whether our laws can be over-turned without the authorisation of parliament.
In the final analysis, that is all there is that keeps us from tyranny.
Gina Miller is a transparency campaigner and businesswoman