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Gina Miller on how trade bodies are failing over Brexit

SCM Direct co-founder Gina Miller says the financial services community is still in the dark over Brexit as she hits out at trade bodies and lobbying groups for so far failing to secure a good deal for the industry.

In an exclusive interview with Money Marketing, Miller shares her fears over the unclear path financial firms face as the Government prepares to trigger Article 50.

The woman who took the Government to court over Brexit also reveals why she took up the fight, the mistakes she made along the way and how she plans to keep fighting for charge transparency.

‘Rubber-stamping’ ministers

Miller co-founded SCM Direct in 2009 with her husband, Alan, and subsequently launched the charity True and Fair Campaign, which focuses on defending transparency in financial services.

But Miller gained much of her public exposure through her widely reported and fiercely contested battle last year to obtain a vote in Parliament on whether the UK could legally start the process of leaving the EU.

Miller, who has found herself an unloved figure among many of her peers in financial services, launched her legal challenge a month after the UK voted in the EU referendum. She argued that, without parliamentary scrutiny and approval, invoking Article 50 would be unlawful.

In November, a High Court ruled that MPs should vote on Article 50.

In January, the Supreme Court agreed a vote was needed, a ruling that Miller says stopped the Government acting “whenever they felt like it”.

MPs ended up backing the European Union Bill this month by a majority of 384, allowing the Government to push ahead with Brexit but not before the Bill faced pushback in the House of Lords.

Brexit negotiation talks will formally be triggered on 29 March. But Miller criticises MPs for simply “rubber-stamping” the Government’s wishes. She says: “I can only lead the horse to water but I can’t make it drink because I won the case with the Government but ministers haven’t actually performed their role properly.

“They haven’t debated; they turned into this rubber-stamping arm of the Government, which is not what they should be doing.”

I won the case with the Government but ministers haven’t actually performed their role properly

Miller warns there are still “many hurdles” to overcome in a relatively short timeframe before Britain leaves the 28-country bloc.

She says: “We should all hope that parties on all sides of the table will enter the negotiations with mutual respect and adamantly reject talk of punitive coercive measures.

“Seeking to give Britain a bad deal to instil fear in other potential ‘leavers’ is not only infantile and short-sighted but is contrary to all the ideals on which the European Union has been built.  Neither the UK nor any EU member state should wish to see a failing neighbour, or exploitation by powers outside the EU and UK.”

Loose lobbying

Miller warns uncertainties remain for the financial services industry, which in her view has not been given enough guidelines around how life will be after Brexit.

She says: “The financial services sector has to accept that passporting is not going to happen if we have a hard Brexit. The industry has to start being realistic. It is not even beginning to talk about that, and that’s worrying.”

Miller argues trade bodies such as the Investment Association have never given a practical response when asked about the consequences of Brexit for the industry.

She says: “The problem is that, in the City, you have so many different messages from different organisations, even the ones that were able to step up. These organisations have some of the most clever people in the country but they are giving up.”

An IA spokesman says:“The Investment Association is working very closely with Government, regulators and key EU stakeholders to surface and assess the issues that are affecting the asset management industry as a result of the UK’s decision to leave the EU. Ensuring the industry’s priorities are understood by key decision makers does not require a running media commentary.

“We will continue to work with our members and stakeholders across the UK and EU to ensure that the UK’s asset management industry, which services millions of savers across the world, continues to flourish in the post-Brexit world.”

Although she does not regret bringing the case against the Government and says she would do it again, Miller acknowledges her lone-wolf approach may have been misguided.

She says: “I was really naive in going out alone and that is one of the things I really got wrong. I thought ‘I have to prove this is possible,’ and I thought ‘If I can do this, other
people may come alongside.’ But nobody did.

“There are things that I miscalculated hugely. I thought other people would have joined me and funded me. Second, I didn’t think it was going to go beyond October and I didn’t anticipate the reaction it had; some people have tried to destroy all parts of my life.”

Since appearing on TV with her campaigning, Miller has received numerous threats, which even today force her to keep away from the public. She says: “The threat repeated all the time is that I need to be the second Jo Cox. That’s the one that gets repeated all over again. I have an alarm system and panic buttons in every room in my house now.

“I’ve got a satellite office here at my private members club. I don’t go to the office and I don’t go out on weekends at all.”

Due diligence on skis

Miller remains passionate about her work on charges transparency. She says her biggest struggle is to get hold of robust data, especially on pension funds that do business with charities.

She says: “I’d love to see what happens in the investment and charity sector because there’s no transparency there and it is a lot of money.

“One very large charity came to see me once and said they were worried about one of the two fund managers they used. They said their chief executive met on a ski slope with him and that was it; that was their due diligence.”

Miller also recalls recent analysis exposing the opacity of some asset management firms when reporting their performance figures. Earlier this month, an analyst from Numis suggested performance figures from fund group Schroders had been misreported, though later clarified it was making a wider point about the industry.

Miller argues the FCA should publish a separate study on performance reporting alongside its wider asset management market study, which she expects to report in the autumn rather than the summer.

Miller says: “Among all the things that people buy off, the main buy triggers are price, performance and brand. If you can’t trust performance, how can you make an informed decision?

“It’s a massive problem and I wonder why the FCA hasn’t commented at all on this issue since it happened.”

Miller attributes part of the reason for the industry’s continuing opacity to the “revolving door” of people circling around government and financial services jobs.

She says: “Look back at the Treasury and all the people who went back to the industry from there. They say: ‘Why should I change the culture [in financial services] as that is where my next paycheck will come from?’

“I’ve been saying you need at least a year’s gap before going back in the industry. This would help the industry and stop this revolving back door.”

Miller says her organisation has repeatedly asked the FCA for a lobbying register, and she expects the regulator to face many challenges during the Brexit process. “I hear that the FCA is terrified about all the legislation coming next year because of Brexit. Many people there will leave. If we have a hard Brexit, there are going to have to be different people with different skills because the people who are there now don’t have the right skills in place.”

Miller has many hopes for how financial services will look in the future. She even wants to see Treasury select committee chair Andrew Tyrie head the FCA one day.

Miller does not envisage a career in politics for herself, however.

She says: “I won’t go into politics, although people keep asking me that. I had a lot of offers and some were quite hilarious. A massive sporting organisation asked me if I could be their transparency campaigner. I said even if I had worked for them for 150 years that would not make a difference. People think just because I am a woman I am going to fall for this flattery.”

Miller says she will carry on focusing on Brexit and speaking up about it, especially if Prime Minister Ther-esa May tries again to exclude Parliament from the process.

She says: “I campaigned on Brexit because literally nobody else would do it and now I am at a stage where I have to make a decision, so I’ll continue to speak up during these negotiations. What have I got to lose now?”

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Comments

There are 34 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Why do people keep giving this publicity seeking nobody a voice ?

  2. A woman who does not believe in democracy??????

  3. “…she hits out at trade bodies and lobbying groups for so far failing to secure a good deal for the industry.”

    Seriously? Secure a deal with who and on what basis exactly? Several trade bodies are well aware of the issues and have done significant work around the subject to my certain knowledge.

    There are some good points in the article, unfortunately it comes across as a personal rant and moan with any worthwhile message lost.

  4. Charlie Farnsbarns 24th March 2017 at 9:30 am

    Why give oxygen to this self-publicist?

    Shouldn’t she be concentrating on the disastrous eurozone, and a currency prison that fills Germany’s boots at the expense of mass youth unemployment in Southern States, whilst bankrupting smaller EU nations?

    We are re-engaging with the Commonwealth and forging new relationships with emerging markets. The promising future, not a failed past.

  5. Neil Liversidge 24th March 2017 at 9:53 am

    I find it utterly amazing that Remainiacs such as Gina Miller are taken seriously by anyone when they get on the high horses and demand a vote in Parliament on the Brexit deal. For decades they have been quite content for Parliament to have little or no say in the edicts handed down from the European Commission but now, suddenly, British parliamentary democracy becomes dear to their hearts. Who do they think they are kidding? All the whining for Parliament to approve the Brexit deal is nothing more than a sly, devious and underhand attempt to keep Britain in the EU in all but name. The likes of Miller, Lammy, Clegg et al would have us locked into the single market and paying out as much if not more as we pay now for the ‘privilege’ with no say whatsoever. And these people profess themselves democrats? We are forever being told that Brexit will lead to an exodus of talent. If that means an exodus of the publicity-seeking and self-regarding aforementioned then it will be very welcome, but it won’t equate to a loss of talent by any stretch of the imagination. Bring on the hardest of Brexits and the sooner the better; we are stepping off the Titanic. More fool those who cling on to the furniture of the doomed leviathan. So deafened have they been by the Ode to Joy, they have obviously not heard the EU’s death knell.

    • Democracy means having the rule of law and following due process. Abolishing that or short-circuiting it is nothing more than mob rule. If you pick and choose which laws you like or don’t like and advocate by-passing the law when it suits you don’t ask it to protect you later.

    • Same could be said for Bexiters. Demanding parliamentary sovereignty over the UK then kicking up a fuss when the courts are asked to enforce it.

  6. @Nigel Herrick and irving struel
    Can you two not come up with something a bit more thoughtful than the comments you have made. “Publicity seeking nobody” could be made to fit anyone in the public eye, if you dislike them enough. And the point about democracy! What has she, actually, done that is undemocratic? She had a democratic right to disagree with you and to ask for parliament to be consulted about triggering article 50, as did anyone else in this country. And guess what? The judges agreed with her. But of course the judges are now branded as enemies of the people, by the gutter press, who are stirring up major problems and divisiveness in society with their vitriolic rhetoric. Was Nigel Farage against democracy because he wanted the UK to leave europe, when there had been a perfectly diplomatic referendum, albeit in the 1970’s, that showed the UK wanted to join. No he wasn’t. Yes, leavers will say that the Eu has changed over the years but, if that is the case it you could contend that it may change again in the future. Perhaps the UK would have been better off staying in and continuing the fight for change rather than chucking it in.
    If you want to disagree with the a person then come out with a sensible and coherent argument about their views. Don’t just abuse them. No wonder Ms Miller has had security alarms installed all over her house.
    After the horrible events of the other day it was very reassuring to see people form all over Britain, and Europe, showing solidarity and compassion for those that were affected. Unfortunately it was not very comforting hearing England football fans insulting and mocking German people (around about the same time) who most likely, had nothing to do with the last war.
    Thankfully I’m not on twitter or facebook because I bet there are a lot of my fellow IFAs out there who think I’m a complete idiot (but they will probably tell me on this site though).

    • Well said Patrick. And I for one think you are as far removed as it is possible to be from being an idiot. I couldn’t say the same about many of the Brexiteers though. Time will tell and you, I and others will have little joy in telling them ‘We told you so’.

      I remember an old saying from my time in industry “No one ever went bust underestimating the intelligence of the British public” This time round however I think some might well go bust.

  7. More scaremongering about Brexit I see, the PM should have triggered article 50 the day after he had his mandate from the British people instead of turning tail and quitting. Then we would never have heard of this idiotic woman who doesn’t think that the referendum was a mandate from the people, that MPs should vote against their clear instructions and want Brexit to keep being challenged until she gets the answer SHE wants.

  8. How can anyone have failed to secure a good deal on anything when formal negotiations haven’t yet even started?

    You didn’t get the referendum result you wanted Ms. Miller. Learn to live with it.

  9. I like this woman on so many levels, when I suspect I shouldn’t. Her legal action was both an incredible achievement and incredibly naive.

    She bought the nonsense that a majority of MPs having sided with ‘remain’ during the referendum suggested a blocking-majority *if only* the Government were forced to consult them. In reality, many MPs made marginal decisions based on party loyalties or a fine balance as to the supposed economic benefits of staying in versus a genuine dislike of federalism. Likewise, many have made the presumption that “the 48%” are a homogeneous block in love with the EU, when people voted ‘remain’ for a myriad of reasons and a majority of them do not want Brexit blocked.

    The main consequence of her legal action was for Parliament to spell out in no uncertain terms that it now backs Brexit, including many members who do not actually like the idea. I suspect she and her backers might have saved themselves the money and effort had they realised this would happen.

    On a cheerier note, another piece of work she did was on the huge costs incurred by many larger charities: in some larger charities, a third of donations are used to fund a charity’s fund raising operations(!), before we even get on to the more vexed question of whether they deliver front-line relief or spend the money on campaigning…

  10. I think this sis nothing short of wanting her name in the press again. For someone who seems to be so intelligent, her current form of yapping is so incredibly stupid it can only be for publicity. Just can any sane and rational person expect the government to provide certainty to any industry about events that have yet to be decided? What she is saying here is akin to wanting a fund manager to provide certainty of the future performance of his or her fund. How could the/she possibly give this????? they couldn’t because its impossible
    Gina Miller I am sorry, you are talking out of your backside and in my view its purely of the sake of taking.

  11. She is certainly on a mission. One that will no doubt damage her business as the publicity she continues to create for herself will only alienate those that do not agree with her. Why is it the rich and self assured never know when to stop fanning their ego’s?

  12. Neil Liversidge 24th March 2017 at 4:30 pm

    Her comment about the revolving door between the regulator and the regulated is interesting though. She says “I’ve been saying you need at least a year’s gap before going back in the industry. This would help the industry and stop this revolving back door.” In the days when Europe’s motorcyclists were fighting the Eurocrats on power limits, type approval and anti-tampering our nemesis was Commissioner Martin Bangemann. We won and the commission ended up with egg allover its face. Consequently Bangemann was reshuffled from transport to telecoms where he ended up regulating among others the Spanish telephone giant Telefónica. No sooner had he done his stint there than he went to work for Telefónica in total contravention of commission rules. Was anything done about it? Absolutely not. Yet another example of how the EU runs its affairs for the benefit of its officials rather than the people of Europe.

  13. Whilst I initially had some respect for her crusade in support of due process and can understand the reasons why so many believe that Parliament should have a formal vote on triggering Brexit, I lost all respect when I listened to her being interviewed on Radio 4 the night the Commons overturned the two amendment from the Lords.
    In this interview she criticised MPs for “rubber-stamping” and not putting conditions into the bill; I’m sorry but for someone so obsessed with “due process” not to understand that this was not the Bill for those sort of amendments either means she is not as bright as she presents or reveals her underlying reasons for pursuing the Court case.
    She also suggested that there should have been a confidential vote by MPs “so that those who secretly disagreed with Brexit could vote against without fear of being criticised or facing retribution”. I kid you not!!!
    Perhaps she should stick to the day job where it can be argued she is pursuing issues that need to be exposed.

  14. Blue Eyed Monster 24th March 2017 at 4:59 pm

    Well said Patrick Schan and Man in Black!
    It seems rational thought disappears when anyone dares challenge the Brexiteers. We all – including Gina Miller – accept we are leaving the EU. Nobody is trying to stop it. What some people are trying to do is ensure we don’t have a hard brexit. All thoughts and ideas should be focussed on that.

  15. I’m no fan of Mrs Miller, but on this topic I am 100% on her page. In this I feel she is like the little lad in the Hans Anderson story, pointing out the King has no clothes, while all around have been conned into thinking he is resplendently dressed. An absolute shoe in for Brexit.

  16. Does anyone really care what Gina Miller has to say? Never heard of her before the referendum results. She is an ambitious woman who bought herself free publicity with what must have been a huge bill to her backers. Whilst the victory she achieved in the courts will get her name in the Legal history books it does not go far enough for her as she will be referred to as the person who delayed/inconvenienced triggering of Article 50 and not the one to stop/avert our departure from the EU. I suspect this is why she won’t go away yet and not because she is stupid, rather because she underestimates the strength of support for leaving and the intelligence of Leave voters. She is beginning to embarrass herself by pursuing this matter further but I can understand why she finds it hard to resist the temptation. An opportunity to raise one’s profile at other people’s expense doesn’t come along everyday!

    Her mission was to use Brexit and other people’s money to make a name for herself and I think she pretty much did that to some extent. She got the free publicity, she will probably be mentioned in Law history books albeit not quite the outcome she set out to achieve and now is a good time for her to stop whinging and get on with

  17. She rarely mentions that she was previously married to Jon Maguire of Arch Cru fame, not sure what her views of his transparency and charges were then. I presume she had moved on to New Star Allan Miller before Maguire bought his chip shop!

  18. @ Patrick Schan
    Quite agree.

  19. I fully support Gina Miller and what she is trying to do. I find it absolutely appalling the amount and tries of abuse she has had to face in a country where we are supposed to respect the views of others. She speaks out for those the government refuse to listen to. I admire her as a person with the courage to do this and to face this alone. She is a hero and deserves to be honoured as such.

  20. How much time and tax payers money did she waste on taking the government to court on something that was a done deal. The referendum results gave the mandate required – taking the country to court to try and get things delayed to give herself a bit of publicity was reprehensible. So she got a vote in the commons for article 50 to be triggered – they voted – its being triggered – how much did that cost the tax payer in court costs and wasted time?

  21. whats her tax status ?

  22. Brexit is the new Religion. Anyone who has a contrary view is a heretic.

  23. I think she is focusing on the UK…but I might be wrong.

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