Gina Miller was not an upper-crust student at Fettes College like Tony Blair nor a King’s Scholarship winner at Eton College like Boris Johnson nor a privileged girl attending Holton Park Girls’ Grammar School in Oxford like Theresa May. Gina was born Gina Nadira Singh in British Guiana to Savitri and Doodnauth Singh QC, on April 19, 1965. Her father became the Attorney General of Guyana. Her parents decided to send her to England at the age of 10 to Moira House Girls School in Eastbourne. Shortly thereafter, economic hardship set in when Guyana introduced foreign exchange controls. Gina had to take a job as a chambermaid in an Eastbourne hotel. After Moira House and long before she became a millionaire, she matriculated into the Polytechnic of East London to read for a degree in Law but was forced to withdraw before she completed her finals. She was brutally attacked and some of the perpetrators were fellow students.
On 2 October 2016, Theresa May announced plans to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty (TFEU) to put the UK on a track to leave the EU. Gina protested that Theresa had no such authority! Lady Hale, deputy president of the Supreme Court, stated that the issue was whether giving Article 50 notification was within the Crown’s prerogative powers for the conduct of foreign relations or whether the prerogative cannot be used in a way that undermines an Act of the United Kingdom Parliament. The majority judgment of the Supreme Court of the UK held that the EU Treaties not only concern the international relations of the United Kingdom, they are a source of domestic law, and they are a source of domestic legal rights many of which are inextricably linked with domestic law from other sources. Accordingly, the Royal prerogative to make and unmake treaties, which operates wholly on the international plane, cannot be exercised in relation to the EU Treaties, at least in the absence of domestic sanction in appropriate statutory form. Miller’s Article 50 challenge was successful. Serendipitously, it is now the linchpin of a protracted extradition case in Trinidad.
It is argued that this country’s extradition treaty with the US contradicts the Extradition (Commonwealth and Foreign Territories) Act. The respondent claims that, in passing the Act, Parliament afforded citizens certain protections which are ignored by the international treaty. Douglas Mendes SC had no objection to the decision of Appellate Judges Nolan Bereaux, Judith Jones and Charmaine Pemberton granting preliminary permission to pursue an appeal in the Privy Council against two successive decisions by a High Court judge and the Court of Appeal in this jurisdiction. This case arising from an island realm of Her Majesty’s Commonwealth will test Lady Hale’s ruling against Theresa May.
On 24 July 2019, Theresa May resigned as Prime Minister and Boris Johnson succeeded her. By 28 August 2019, he publicized his intention to secure royal assent to prorogue parliament. Her Majesty gave her approval. Gina Miller was not amused! Miller’s representative, Lord Pannick QC, laid out the case against prorogation in three parts – one: that prorogation has never been longer than three weeks for the last 40 years; two: that the prime minister’s advice to the Queen was an “abuse of power”; and three: that the breach of parliamentary sovereignty is happening during a period where “time is very much of the essence”, that is, ahead of the Brexit deadline on October 31.
What Miller challenged was not the Queen’s formal approval but the advice given to her by the Prime Minister. Oxford’s Professor Paul Craig reasoned that the case for judicial intervention was compelling because of the impact of the abuse of power in relation to prorogation on the sovereignty principle itself. The sovereignty of Parliament is the foundational principle underlying the unwritten UK constitution. This sovereignty resides with Parliament, not with the executive. Lady Hale, in delivering the judgement, stated that Boris Johnson’s advice to prorogue Parliament given to Her Majesty the Queen, was unlawful.
In Trinidad and Tobago, between November 2017 and January 2018, there appeared a series of press reports making allegations against the Chief Justice. The Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago (LATT) resolved to set up a committee to inquire into the allegations with a view to deciding what course of action to take, including whether or not to make a complaint to the Prime Minister. Lady Hale in her judgement delivered on 16 August 2018 stated that “under Section 137 of the Constitution of Trinidad and Tobago, the Prime Minister is the only person who can advise the President to initiate a formal inquiry into the conduct of a member of the higher judiciary which might in due course lead to his removal from office”. Subsequently, the Law Association filed a judicial review application challenging inter alia the advice given to the Honourable Prime Minister. Stephen Hawking warned Theresa May that Brexit was beyond his talents. The braininess of Gina was beyond Bojo. Gina trashed Theresa and delivered a blow to Bojo, and now the sparkle of her West Indian genius seeps into our jurisprudence.