Theresa May’s pledge to give parliament a vote on any Brexit deal is a deliberate attempt to divert attention from the high-profile Supreme Court case she is about to lose, the lead claimant has said.
May made the pledge this week in a major speech outlining her vision for Brexit, which means she is willing to let MPs vote on the final deal Britain eventually negotiates but is fighting in the courts to stop them voting on triggering Article 50, which begins the formal process of leaving the EU.
Gina Miller, the lead claimant in the Supreme Court case, said she believed May’s speech was intended to “take away momentum” around Britain’s highest court ruling next week on Article 50.
Miller said she is “very confident” the court will rule in her and her fellow claimants’ favour next Tuesday, which would be a major defeat for the Government.
But she said that, since May’s speech on Tuesday this week, people had been saying the Supreme Court case was now pointless.
The Express, the most anti-EU paper on Fleet Street, even ran a story claiming the prime minister had “slapped down” Miller, “undermining” her argument that “the Brexit process was woefully undemocratic”.
Miller told HuffPost UK that May’s speech was “diversionary” and the pledge to let MPs vote on a final deal “has nothing to do with my case”.
When asked whether she thought May was deliberately seeking to divert attention from the Supreme Court case, Miller said: “Absolutely. The timing of it was deliberate as well.
“It was meant to take away from the momentum. I’ve had reaction from it afterwards saying ‘well, there’s no point in the Supreme Court even ruling’.
“I’ve said but yes there is. There are two completely different issues.”
“May’s speech was a very political speech but it lacked any detail or any plan or any process. So I don’t think it gives us any idea [of what happens] as we will go forward,” she added.
“You need a vote at the beginning and the end [of Brexit negotations], so the whole idea that there will be a vote on the deal is great but it actually has no bearing whatsoever on my case.”
Miller added she questioned “whether there’s any point” of a parliamentary vote on a final Brexit deal “because, if you already triggered Article 50 and you’re leaving and it’s a terrible deal, it doesn’t actually have any impact”.
The Article 50 case went to the Supreme Court after the Government appealed a High Court verdict that held Miller and the other claimants were right to argue the Government needed an Act of Parliament to begin Brexit and could not rely on Royal Prerogative powers.
The case triggered a huge argument between pro- and anti-EU politicians and journalists - with The Daily Mail even calling the High Court judges “enemies of the people” on its front page.
Miller added she would be “in shock” if the Supreme Court rules in the Government’s favour.
“The reason for that is nothing to do with Brexit,” she said. “If we lose, the courts will have just given the Government permission to use the Royal Prerogative which means we’d be back 400 years.
“That would then set the precedent that any Government could, without consulting parliament, take away people’s rights and that’s just so unfathomable to me.”
Miller also denied repeated accusations she has faced that her case is an attempt to delay or prevent Brexit.
She said: “How can it be frustrating the will of the people, if what I am fighting for is parliamentary sovereignty, when that is one of the fundamental things people voted for?
“You can’t have your cake and eat it. You can’t have it both ways.”
She added a parliamentary debate on a vote on Article 50 would inform the subsequent Brexit negotiations.
“It would be the debate that never happened and should have happened before we did the referendum,” she said. “It’s that process of transparency and debate and scrutiny that I think is absolutely vital.”