“When I see someone walk towards me on the street with a bottle of water or something, I just freak out.” Those were the words of Gina Miller, the City financier who famously took the UK government to court to ensure Parliament secured a vote on Article 50.
Speaking to UK media, she admitted she was now considering leaving the country. She has suffered weeks of threats amid a spate of acid attacks, having already endured dozens of death threats. She lives with her young family under 24-hour protection, and meets with her police handlers to discuss her protection regularly. The police have already issued eight cease and desist letters against her more determined harassers.
Aristocrat Rhodri Colwyn Philipps was sentenced to 12 weeks in prison last month after posting messages on Facebook offering 5,000 British pounds to kill Miller, or as he put it “the first person to ‘accidentally’ run over this bloody troublesome first generation immigrant … If this is what we should expect from immigrants, send them back to their stinking jungles”.
The three judges hearing Miller’s case, one of whom later sought police protection, were labelled “enemies of the people” by a leading national newspaper. Rather than explicitly denouncing the threats of violence, the Justice Secretary Liz Truss had her spokesperson remind journalists about freedom of the press.
Even as a Remainer, I could see there were plenty of decent, non-bigoted reasons why people might have voted Brexit. These ranged from making sovereignty more localised, to opposing spending waste, and even parts of the immigration arguments – which needn’t be presented in a xenophobic way, but so often are.
Nevertheless – there are disturbing and awkward realities about the groups of people in this country who supported Brexit. The way in which the Brexiteers won has clearly come at a high cost to the country. This is at a time when terrorist attacks and divisive leaders abroad are hardly making Western minorities lives any easier.