Gina Miller and Nimco Ali dine across the divide: ‘What will we disagree on? I think Boris Johnson is an OK person’

In our celebrity Dining across the divide special, the anti-Brexit activist and critic of the PM meets the anti-FGM campaigner and close friend of the Johnsons

Gina, 57, London

A portrait of Gina Miller

Occupation Activist, writer, leader of the True and Fair party. Miller initiated the 2016 court case against the government over its authority to implement Brexit

Voting record In the 2019 general election Miller voted Green. Previously she had voted Labour. In the EU referendum she voted … guess what, remain

Amuse bouche Miller used to be a free climber, but had to stop because it caused arthritis in her hands. Now she gets her adrenaline kicks by jumping out of aeroplanes and driving fast cars

Nimco, 39, London

A portrait of Nimco Ali

Occupation Activist, CEO and co‑founder of the Five Foundation, an organisation to end female genital mutilation. Also the government’s independent adviser on tackling violence against women and girls

Voting record Labour, then Green, Ali is now a member of the Conservative party. She endorsed Boris Johnson in the 2019 Conservative leadership election, and is a friend of Carrie Johnson. In the EU referendum she voted remain

Amuse bouche Nimco is godmother to Boris and Carrie Johnson’s son Wilfred. Also says she would shag Nigel Farage over Sadiq Khan

For starters

Nimco For me, as an activist fighting for young women, we don’t have a voice, so sometimes I have to curtail my own voice. You have to play the game. So you have to be friends with the Mike Pompeos of the world, or the Boris Johnsons, to be able to say, “Are you going to push these things forward?”

Gina Which is probably why you are a more successful campaigner than I am, because I won’t do that. When I was fighting to expose corruption and the causes of the financial crisis, people said to me: “You would have been much more successful if you played nice with the right people.” I said, “No, I’m sorry, I’m going to out them all.” I’m not so good at playing the game.

Nimco I’m not going to date certain people, I’m not going to vote for them, but I’m going to work with them because they’ve been elected.

Nimco Ali and Gina Miller eating and drinking at a restaurant table by a floor-to-ceiling window

The big beef

Nimco The thing we’ll disagree on is that I think Boris Johnson is genuinely an OK person. But leadership shows … you know, Michelle Obama said becoming president doesn’t make you a better man, it exposes the man you are.

Gina I’ve never met him. I did see him once, as he was waiting to speak at the Conservative party conference. I was in the green room and I saw him ruffle his hair, and put his trousers in his socks and I thought: what are you doing? Being in power is not a game.

Nimco Even the false reality thing, the lying, I think it’s just because he never wants to upset anybody. He wants to keep the peace, and you can’t as prime minister. You need to tell people if they’re not pulling up their socks.

Gina I am not a fan, but I don’t blame him, I blame the people who put him there, because he’s never had any of the qualities to be prime minister and they allowed him to get that job. They are complicit.

Nimco I’ve seen people being incredibly horrible to him, and in the year he lost his mum. I don’t think he’s had much love in this life, as a child or a grownup.

Gina They thought they could control him – he was going to win an election, that was all that mattered. This is why I find this leadership contest an insult, because they’re pretending they weren’t there and they’re going to make things better, but look at their voting records: they could have called this out much earlier. I don’t have faith that the party is going to change direction.

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Nimco Whoever’s going to win is a temporary prime minister because they’ll lose the next general election.

Gina I think it will be soon. In 2024, we will be in the midst of recession, inflation, cost of living, the true cost Ukraine will start coming through. Why would you hold an election in that year? I think it’s going to be soon, because the new leader will get a bounce.

Nimco If there is an election, I don’t think Boris Johnson will stand. Or he’ll ask to be moved to a safe constituency.

Gina I am surprised – I would have thought that the experience would have meant he wouldn’t want to.

Nimco He’s going to think there’s a comeback kid in there. In the last few days he did sound like Donald Trump.

Gina We don’t have a first lady in this country – we elect the prime minister and their spouse is supposed to be out of the way. I got the impression Carrie did intervene in policy, and that’s wrong.

Nimco She has been given a hard time, but then I think she has also intervened a little bit too much.

Nimco Ali and Gina Miller eating and drinking at a restaurant table by a floor-to-ceiling window

Sharing plate

Gina You can’t move forward in the world when you’re keeping back half of it. We have not even begun to create gender equality.

Nimco Now it’s down to the last two Tory candidates I’m going to write a wishlist of what women need. I want the equalities department to be an actual department. Then we should look at universal childcare as infrastructure …

Gina Absolutely, it is ridiculous. Childcare in the UK is £1,000 a month; in some Nordic countries it’s £10 a day. We have to allow people to go to work.

Nimco And we should look at a feminist foreign policy.

Gina Womanise the world – and I don’t just mean running the world, I’m talking about female qualities. Rather than saying to little boys don’t cry, say cry if it makes you feel better. It comes down to toxic masculinity, it’s not men.

Nimco I used to date bankers and Tories because they went to school at seven, they had no love and no kindness – I could empathise with them because they had a weird childhood.

Nimco Ali and Gina Miller eating and drinking at a restaurant table by a floor-to-ceiling window

For afters

Nimco I worked with Priti Patel on this violence against women and girls thing. She really does care.

Gina Rwanda is the worst policy in the world. There is no justification – morally, financially, from a human rights point of view, there is nothing to defend it.

Nimco As an African who sees how migration is fuelling trafficking, I’m not sure it is the worst policy in the world.

Gina I don’t understand why you can’t tackle trafficking at its roots.

Nimco You can’t if you haven’t got a functioning government, which there isn’t in Ethiopia at the moment, or South Sudan, or Libya.

Gina Are we not trafficking people to Rwanda? So you get processed there and if you have a legitimate claim you still can’t come back.

Nimco I don’t think anyone is actually going to be moved there.

Gina So we’ve paid the Rwandan government £120m, but not a single person is going to go there?

Nimco Hopefully it’ll stop the smugglers. Priti has been at the forefront of things that weren’t necessarily her fault, and if she does end up writing her account of things it will be really interesting. She has been a really good home secretary. She really cares about this country.

Gina I am shocked you say that because what I see and hear from people in the legal profession who come up against her is she has a very blinkered view, she is unforgiving and she won’t listen.

Nimco Ali and Gina Miller eating and drinking at a restaurant table by a floor-to-ceiling window


Gina I don’t think right and left matter any more – we just have to solve big problems.

Nimco Keir Starmer is my MP and it’s fine. I want to know about your political party and find out how I can help.

Nimco Ali and Gina Miller eating and drinking at a restaurant table by a floor-to-ceiling window

• Gina and Nimco ate at Plateau, London.

Want to meet someone from across the divide? Find out how to take part


Sam Wollaston

The GuardianTramp

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