Campaigner Gina Miller, who took on the Government over its Brexit plans and won, made an impassioned plea to graduates of De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) to come together ‘in a stream of consciousness’ and fight the ‘poison’ in the world.
Ms Miller, who was bestowed with an honorary degree and the title Doctor of Letters during the first day of Winter Graduations at DMU, has rarely been out of the headlines for the last two years.
Following the referendum result – which saw a majority of Britain vote to leave the EU – Ms Miller took Theresa May’s Government to task in the High Court after it planned to trigger Article 50 without consulting Parliament.
The judges took Ms Miller’s side but some tabloid newspapers and Brexit campaigners vilified her and the judges for what they perceived as an attack on the referendum result.
Ms Miller was subjected to abuse and death threats on a daily basis. Only just this week it was reported that a UKIP member had allegedly used social media to call for her to be decapitated in 2016.
Ms Miller took the opportunity at the degree ceremony to tell the hundreds of graduates present that the abuse would never stop her fight for openness, fairness and unity – and should never stop them either.
You can read the degree ceremony citation for Ms Miller here
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Following the citation Ms Miller said: “As much as people will tell you - and the tide is rising - that we are different and we are divided, we are not.
“We are unique but we are the same. We are kind, we have hearts and minds that care for each other.
“Do not let the few tell us, the many, that we do not matter; that they will tell us who we should be.
“I for one will not let words be used as weapons against me. I will use my heart and my mind to fight those who try to poison the world we live in.
“Come with me. Promise me today, as you go out in the world, that we can come together in a stream of consciousness that will wash away that poison to make sure that we will have a world that we can be proud of and that our children can be proud of.
“Do as Mandela said. Plant the tree under whose shade you will never sit.”
Earlier in the day, an honorary degree was awarded to Geert-Hinrich Ahrens.
He led the Working Group on Ethnic Minorities, which was tasked by the United Nations to grapple with horrifying ethnic conflicts following the bloody break-up of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s.
Ambassador Ahrens received an Honorary Doctor of Education for committing his professional life to peacekeeping. You can read his citation here
During his acceptance speech he said: “An individual cannot do much about big crises. One can however try to understand what is going on and try to act as a decent person and be helpful where possible.
“My life has been colourful and extremely interesting and by no means all full of horror. What to make of it? Pablo Neruda gave his memoirs the title “I confess that I have lived”. My high school physics teacher was more moderate and used to say “man is born, makes a fool of himself and dies.”
“It is for you to choose.”
Posted on Wednesday 23rd January 2019