Gina Miller Threatens Legal Action Over £1bn Tory-DUP Deal

Britain's government has been threatened with legal action by an anti-Brexit campaigner over the deal Prime Minister Theresa May struck with a Northern Irish party to keep her Conservatives in power after her botched election in 2017.

May called a snap election last June but lost her parliamentary majority and now relies on support from lawmakers in the small Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to govern.

Ministers have been sent a legal letter warning that £50m ($70m) of funding for the province, part of a £1bn deal agreed between May and the DUP, was unlawful because it was made without parliamentary agreement.

The challenge has been brought by Gina Miller, who successfully won a court battle in 2017 to force the government into seeking parliamentary approval before starting divorce talks with the European Union, and the Independent Workers' Union of Great Britain (IWGB).

"It beggars belief that this government is once again putting itself above the law and seeking to undermine the normal constitutional and legal processes," Miller said in a statement.

"Spending public money requires proper parliamentary scrutiny and accountability – and the making of these payments is no different."

Gina Miller
Businesswoman Gina Miller speaks during a television interview on College Green in London on April 26, 2017. Miller said on January 28, 2018, she sent a letter to ministers urging the government to seek parliamentary approval for 50 million pounds of funding, part of a 1 billion pound deal agreed between Theresa May and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP). CHRIS J RATCLIFFE/AFP/Getty Images

Miller and the IWGB say the government have broken an assurance given in August last year that payments to Northern Ireland could not be made without prior parliamentary approval.

Speaking on ITV's Peston on Sunday on January 28, Miller said: "We have found out there have been two payments and the government are now saying they will ask parliament to retrospectively approval it.

"It has not gone through the proper channels and constitutionally they have not got the powers to do this. So I am challenging."

"It is not about the payment, it is about the way you are doing this," she continued.

"Time and time again there are examples of government trying to by-pass parliament. The Executive is trying to change the power between itself and parliament."

Miller and the IWGB's lawyers have sent a letter demanding a response from ministers by February 2 that any payment allocated to the British province will be returned and no further sums will be made without the agreement of lawmakers, or they will begin court action against the government.