Gina Miller Eyes Political Future in Campaign to Stop Brexit

(Bloomberg) -- Gina Miller is keeping the U.K. guessing.

The wealth manager who successfully challenged the government’s initial plans to trigger Brexit without consulting Parliament is eyeing a future in politics -- but not quite yet. “I absolutely have no political ambitions,’’ said Miller, 53, before adding the important qualifier: “at the moment.’’

The Guyana-born businesswoman spoke in an interview in Dover, southeast England, after giving a speech to launch a website, www.endthechaos.co.uk, designed to give Britons “unspun facts” about Brexit.

It all looked and sounded like the start of a political campaign. Miller stepped on the stage following a pounding soundtrack called “March of the Saxons.” There was footage of her traveling the country and she delivered a speech lambasting politicians for being “stuck in their Westminster bubble.”

Though she’s previously skirted questions about her political ambitions, speculation is rife that she’s in the running to be the next leader of the pro-European Liberal Democrats. The incumbent, Vince Cable, is seeking to change the rules to allow for non-members of Parliament to hold his office, and Miller is due to address the party’s autumn conference on Monday.

The speech, she said, was arranged “months ago,’’ and the party leadership “is not on my mind at all.’’

“I don’t want to be affiliated to any party at this moment in time, I think it is better to be independent,” said Miller, adding that she’s not even a member of the Liberal Democrats. “This idea that you have to toe the party line and be whipped is something that I think is very damaging to our politics, so I wouldn’t enter that arena.”

The remark sounds like a rejection of a political career, but on being pushed further, she conceded: “I’m not saying I would never go into politics.’’

‘Damaged’

“What I’m saying is politics would need to change, and at the moment, with the changes that need to happen both on a political and social level, I think I can be more effective in doing that as an independent,’’ she said. “Everything I do is political. I’ve always been quite political. I’ve grown up in politics, so I’m not ruling it out, but definitely not now.’’

Moreover, she said, the Liberal Democrats have a “damaged” reputation -- a reference to the party’s decision in 2010 to go into coalition with the Conservatives of then Prime Minister David Cameron and the incumbent, Theresa May. Miller said the party needs to give clarity on its plans for the country that go beyond its stance on Brexit, which it opposes.

“You vote for political parties because of the suite of their policies, not just Brexit,” said Miller. “One-issue politics is not helpful for anybody and I think the British public know that.”

Miller’s goal for now is to win Britons the chance to reconsider Brexit, which she says “isn’t a done deal’’ until March 29. People “have to have the chance’’ to reverse the vote, she said.

Shifting Views

“You have to look at the shift in the country: there is a deep and sustained call for people to have another say to validate the options going forward,’’ she said, warning of “true unrest’’ if politicians ignore that. “I personally would like to see a different agenda.”

Miller is calling for a campaign to remain in the EU that involves a package of changes both domestically and at the European level.

Dover was an obvious place to deliver her message. Though it voted 62 percent in favor of leaving the European Union in the 2016 referendum, it’s expected to be badly hit if Britain tumbles out of the bloc without a deal. Authorities have predicted miles of tailbacks and surrounding areas from day one if customs checks are introduced at the town’s port.

Adding more grist to speculation she aims to go into politics, Miller said she hasn’t had a summer break, instead spending six weeks touring the country to speak to voters. She’s been to Liverpool and Leeds, the Welsh valleys, Cardiff, Surrey, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

She says the chance of an early election -- not due until 2022 -- is “increasing on a daily basis because of the lack of arithmetic in Parliament to get any sort of decision on Brexit and because of the chaos in both political parties.’’

And would she stand in the next election? “Who knows?” she replied, coyly.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.