burning-at-stake-ms-clipart“Rape and death threats against former model who led legal challenge” is one of the lead stories in today’s Times.

Why they choose to describe Gina Miller (51) as a ‘former model’ rather than a marketing and investment executive and the director of the True and Fair Foundation which works to promote intelligent giving (a cause close to my heart) is not quite clear. Or perhaps it is. It sends a (not very subtle) misogynistic message – here’s this dumb airhead (she’s a model – so she must dumb, even if she does have a law degree) causing chaos and bringing all these threats of rape on murder on herself. Sex and death always did sell papers.

If you look carefully on the front page, you will find a sub-heading (not a headline, mind you) that tells you what the real story is – “High Court says only MPs can trigger Article 50”.

For all sorts of reasons – and not just because I am, on balance, pro-Brexit – I think that this challenge is misconceived. We are where we are – Article 50 has to be invoked and it has to be invoked on a timetable that ensures that the procedure is completed before the next European elections. Even if Parliament dictates the terms that would be acceptable to it, it can’t insist on them, because the EU can just say “no” and, in any case, making your negotiating strategy public is an incredibly dumb thing to do.

I’ve recently been binge-watching Shakespeare’s history plays. One of the striking things is the difference between the way men and women seek to exercise power. A recurring theme is that women seek power through sorcery and, more often, are destroyed through accusations of witchcraft.

Ms Miller was perfectly entitled to have her say and to go to court – this is a legitimate way of challenging power. She is also entitled to live without threats of rape or death and to be fairly reported without the press stoking bonfires fires in anticipation of a witch-burning.

Photo credit: Microsoft clipart