She’s back. With Brexit ‘done’ and with most of the country just grateful to have moved on from the whole saga, we might have thought we had heard the last of Gina Miller. Miller, who became something of a figurehead in the anti-Brexit movement, could quietly return to doing whatever it was she used to get up to. Not so. Now she is back on the attack, demanding a ‘review’ of the appointment of Andrew Bailey as Governor of the Bank of England.
What’s her complaint this time? Apparently as head of the Financial Conduct Authority, Bailey presided over “a toxic cocktail of negligence, incompetence and indifference to the needs of ordinary depositors, investors and pensioners”.
Miller has written to the Chancellor Rishi Sunak demanding Bailey is summoned before the Commons Treasury select committee. There are also calls for a full-scale investigation to be launched into his conduct. Probably very soon we will see petitions, crowdfunded legal action and eventually a hearing before the Supreme Court to have him removed from office before he has even got his feet under the desk.
But in fact, it is not hard to work out what is going on here. Miller has launched a Remainer guerrilla war. Sure, it is possible to make criticisms of Bailey’s tenure at the Financial Conduct Authority. There were some collapses, especially of London Capital & Finance and the peer-to-peer firm Lendy, both of which cost investors money. But Miller’s ‘report’ is flimsy with little substance in it. There is always the occasional financial firm that goes bust, of course. And it’s a shame when investors lose money. Yet is this really the reason Miller is going after Bailey?
Perhaps instead it has more to do with Bailey beginning to already swing the Bank behind Brexit. He has certainly argued forcefully that the City will be better off once Britain has left the EU, allowing London to free itself from the EU’s regulatory system.
Under Mark Carney, the Bank had been one of the key architects of Project Fear. Yet even if Carney himself appeared to have come round to the prospect in recent months – accepting the City couldn’t be subject to EU rules, for example – the Bank will still need a complete overhaul by the new governor to turn it into a champion of regulatory independence. Bailey is the ideal man for the job.
It’s a pity not everyone seems to agree. Miller’s attack on Bailey is an early sign of where hardcore Remainers are going next. They are planning a campaign of resistance against anyone who comes round to Brexit. If our departure from the European Union is to be a success, a whole range of institutions in the City and business, from regulators, to trade groups, to companies, will have to be won over to make it work.
Instead it now looks as if a barrage of campaigns and reviews will be launched against anyone who tries to make leaving the EU a success. It is vital the Chancellor – and even more the courts – resist this. Miller represents no one but herself and a dwindling group of Remainer friends. Yes, Bailey has his faults. But Miller certainly shouldn’t be allowed to undermine – or worse depose – the new Bank of England Governor before he has even started work.