R (on the application of Miller and Dos Santos) (Respondents) v Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Appellant) may have gripped the nation in the run up to Christmas, but has since fallen wayward as people start to realise that the outcome isn’t the big challenge to Brexit the media have touted it to be.
Even if the government lose, and it is decided that Parliament have to vote in order to leave, the end result will not differ. The respondents publicly assert that the case was never meant to challenge Brexit, but was about true democratic procedure and the perceived constitutional power play with the Royal Prerogative. I don’t buy it. I cannot for one second comprehend that such a significant case being brought by (chiefly) Gina Miller – a business woman- because she cares deeply about a pedantic point of law that, regardless of legal significance, would not in itself affect her. What will affect her and her business interests is Brexit. This case is merely a vehicle used to challenge Brexit, that much is clear in my mind. She hopes that a proper debate will see Parliament reject the referendum.
It is my assessment that, should another referendum be held, a vote to remain could well prevail. People wanted to rebel but I suspect few truly wanted or expected to win; it was about making a point. The educated amongst us generally believed that remaining was the best option. More tellingly, under 24’s- the demographic most likely to have enrolled in higher education- voted to remain, yet only 34% actually bothered to vote. It is the same issue that America have endured in the recent elections; everybody expected Hillary Clinton to win, yet Donald Trump prevailed on a strong core of fans willing to vote, and people wanting to rebel against the Obama administration. Interestingly enough, both Brexit and the US elections seem to have been won largely on the issue of immigration. That is quite telling.
Gina Miller hopes that those voting in Parliament will stop Brexit. She will probably be disappointed. To publicly vote against the “majority” of the nation is political suicide. Furthermore, with the major parties all publicly supporting the referendum outcome, the whipping system in force throughout Parliament will surely persuade those even contemplating going against the grain. This adds in career implications to bear in mind should an individual vote against Brexit.
Overall, an interesting case to follow as a law student, but one I fear is merely academic; Gina Miller’s intended effect will not come to fruition. The government will lose the appeal this month, but Parliament will swiftly vote for triggering article 50, quashing any hopes for a reversal of the current economic decline in the United Kingdom. On the plus side, I would imagine that law firm Mishcon de Reya have had an influx of law graduates claiming to be gripped by the case and absolutely dying to have the opportunity to discuss it at an assessment day. Good for business, poor for outcome.