by GINA MILLER
I HAVE no doubt that my faith in the law came from my father, Doodnauth Singh, who was attorney general of Guyana from 2001 to 2009, and one of the most respected lawyers across the Commonwealth.
He recognised that the law does not consist of tablets of wisdom arbitrarily handed down from on high, but that it is about safeguarding people’s rights and freedoms, as well as acting as a stabilising force for society as a whole.
The law is an expression of how people want to live their lives and it evolves over time. It shows, certainly most of the time, a journey towards ever greater humanity.
In common with so many members of the BAME community, I was brought up with a strong sense of community and empathy, a belief that it is incumbent upon anyone who achieves success in life to give something back to the wider community that has enabled us to be successful. A belief that we should look out for each other, and, if necessary, make sacrifices for the greater good.
I don’t, of course, say that these virtues are the unique preserve of our community, but maybe because of the political turbulence my parents experience in their own lives – my Sikh grandfather was killed by robbers in his own home when my mother was a mere 10 years old – they impressed upon me how important it is never to be complacent about what we have.
Maybe all of these factors – and over 30 years campaigning for better outcomes for people, transparency and good practice in so many spheres of society – made it almost inevitable that I would be sitting in the supreme court yet again with my excellent legal team under Lord Pannick, facing the formidable task of making sure that the prime minister honours and obeys the laws of the land.
One thing my father taught me is that no one, absolutely no one, is above the law and sometimes, it is necessary to speak truth unto power.
I was always quietly confident in the law in relation to my case – the Case of Proclamations 1611 made it crystal clear that the courts have a supervisory role over the executive – but judges are human and can be susceptible to pressure.
So I was lost in admiration for all 11 judges of the supreme court when they decided, with cut-glass clarity, that the case I brought was just. Prime minister Boris Johnson had acted outside of his powers in proroguing parliament for an unprecedented five weeks with the obvious and extreme effect of obfuscating debate about the practicalities of how we make our exit from the EU on October 31. The advice he had given to the Queen was unlawful – the judgment could not have been clearer or more reasonably and succinctly put.
There were, however, jeers as well as cheers when I emerged on to the steps of the supreme court afterwards to thank the judges and my legal team and to say I was looking forward to seeing parliament resume its deliberations as soon as possible.
So much of the abuse I have received has sadly been racist in nature. Although generally expressed in more graphic and vulgar terms, the general thrust of what was said about me was that I wasn’t even born here, I should be grateful and silent, that as an immigrant and a woman I can’t possibly be bright enough or successful enough to be standing up and acting without the hands of powerful white men pulling my strings.
What business had I, in any case, to try to go about meddling in the affairs of the nation?
Just for the record, I was born in what was then called British Guiana, and I came to Britain when I was a child. I am therefore British and I feel British, and, while I am proud of my BAME heritage, I would actually say it is the combination that makes me so stubborn and determined to see that everything I love most about our country – and it is our country – is preserved. Better to do a kindness near to home than to go far to burn incense.