Should the Church of England Have a Policy on Brexit?

The Most Reverend and Right Honourable the Lord Archbishop of Canterbury has told us that God is a remainer.

It seems that the Church of England’s opinion is that the European Union is the best thing that has happened to the world since the collapse of the Roman Empire 1,500 years ago. It wasn’t entirely clear whether the Roman Empire was better than or just as good as the EU, but one thing was plain and that was that Christianity was of no importance at all when compared with the EU.

Some may reckon it odd that an Archbishop of Canterbury thinks a modern, rather unpopular, institution devoted to imposing hundreds of thousands of laws on peoples who have no say in how those laws should be framed is superior to Christianity. But there really is no cause for surprise. With many exceptions, I concede, there has now developed a tradition in the Church of England of its leaders supporting the political opinions of what they see as the left wing establishment. And that frequently involves treating Christ’s church as being inferior to the creations of modern man.

But I do have to say that I think the Archbishop has gone a little too far this time. Obviously, it is perfectly possible for a devout Christian to favour our membership of the EU. But it is equally possible for a devout Christian to want us to leave. Until the Archbishop spoke I had no idea that Christ had an opinion on the point. Neither had I ever heard it suggested by anyone in the UK, even my old friend Dominic Grieve, that the EU had no faults. But now I am told by the Archbishop that everyone has got the EU wrong: it has no faults; it is gigantically admired by God; He is desperate for a second referendum.

This seems to me to raise some interesting questions. Until the Archbishop spoke, no serious remainer had gone so far as to say there was no room for reform in the EU. Indeed, in a way, that was what made the remainers’ cause such a difficult one to advance in the referendum campaign. Everyone agreed (except, as it now turns out, the Archbishop of Canterbury), that the EU had many flaws. I think even Ken Clarke, Dominic Grieve and Anna Soubry were prepared to admit that there was room for improvement. That put the remainers on the back foot when the campaign got going. It was difficult for them to put forward any positive reason to support our membership of the EU, so they resorted to project fear instead. And that, as we now know, didn’t work.

It is not for me to advise the remainers. I have been opposed to the European experiment for as long as I can remember. But I do think it is sad that the real debate has never taken place (or not in the last fifty or so years).

The message from the remainers during the referendum campaign was that everyone agreed the EU was in a mess, but if we left it we would become very poor. Money was all that mattered. Modern things like democracy were not important for the time being (maybe democracy could be gently introduced to the EU later). Of course, there were some brave souls who said we should stay in the EU because its bureaucrats were better at drafting Socialist regulations than we were. They weren’t saying there was any principled reason for staying in the EU, they just thought there was more chance of repressive social laws if we did.

Would the Archbishop’s approach have worked? His theory is that the EU is perfect. It has no faults. It is vastly superior to every other man made institution there has ever been (though the Roman Empire may run it a close second). It is even better than the Christian Church. What would have happened if Mr Cameron, Mr Clegg and Mr Corbyn had taken that line during the referendum campaign? Would we all have swallowed the notion that the EU was the best thing since sliced bread, that it was entirely without fault? Obviously we wouldn’t. Messrs Cameron, Clegg and Corbyn had all said the EU needed to be reformed. But, more importantly, the need for reform was plain to all of us (except, as we now know, the Archbishop of Canterbury). If the remainers had suddenly started saying the EU was perfect, the NO vote would have been a lot higher than it was.

But that doesn’t mean that it was wise of the remainers to adopt an entirely negative campaign. All that world war III stuff and “remainers are all young and clever while leavers are all old and stupid” was hardly attractive, even to those who had no serious interest in the issues. I honestly do think they might have done better if one or two of them had been prepared to explain why they thought our membership of the EU was a good thing. Surely, they, or some of them, must have thought there were some advantages to our membership, other than just not having a third world war or descending into economic disaster if we left?

And now, despite the referendum, the dreary arguments are being run all over again. Several obviously rather dim MPs are bleating that we should stay in the EU because they want us to do so and they have got 2:2 degrees from red brick universities (which makes them geniuses). If that isn’t enough to persuade us, they have come up with project fear mark 2. Unless we stay in the single market and customs union and agree to be bound by the European Court of Justice without having any opportunity to influence EU law making, we will all starve because the benign EU will refuse to sell us any food.

Why are the remainers not prepared, even now, to tell us what they think is so good about the EU? Are they really so stupid as to think it is enough just to say they are more intelligent than the voters and that the world as we know it will come to an end if we don’t agree to be bound by all future EU laws? I don’t believe they are. I know many intelligent remainers. True, none of them has yet explained to me what it is they love about the EU. But that is not surprising. They know I have been desperate for us to regain sovereignty for nearly fifty years. They recognise that there is no prospect of changing my mind. But why won’t they tell others, people who are not so committed to the leavers’ cause as I am, what it is they love about the EU?

Charles

 

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26 thoughts on “Should the Church of England Have a Policy on Brexit?

  1. I haven’t got a degree from a university, worthless or otherwise, do I guess that under the principle that those ambitious enough to be in a position to make decisions on my behalf will jolly well make them without regard to my views – because they know best. However, I’ve been around long enough to realize that most of these ambitious, decision making people – these politicians- have a track record of making horrendous mistakes. The referendum wasn’t a mistake and neither was the result. The EU, however is proving a grave error of judgment on the part of Heath (and that lot).
    If the was the will to fix it and the will to reform… we’ve been round that loop many times – nothing gets past the Franco-German axis. It’s a cartel funding a pretty extravagant bureaucracy; when even core members such as Italy see no benefit, when club-Med has soaring young unemployment, where Visegrad nations (and others) are chastised over their democratic choices – or asked to choose again and come up with the answer desired by Brussels… these and more convince me that the EU strayed from democratic ideals long ago.
    I fail to see how a career Church of England official can add anything other than a veneer of empty-headed preposterous nonsense.
    Maybe the Treaty of Rome has some special High-Anglican significance.

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  2. There was an intelligent piece about what role, if any, the church should have in politics, that you could have written, but yet again your hostility to the EU and silly habit of baiting the argument by grossly misrepresenting what the EU actually is gets the better of you. Shame.

    A great many people do not have a view on whether the UK should or should not be in the EU. For them, they are as much a part of Europe as my arm is a part of me and the Referendum result is equivalent to an amputation. I other words, the UK is an integral part of the EU and will be much diminished if it leaves.

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  3. I think I might have afforded you a more appreciative reaction, if you had included your chum in Rome as another high church official with blind pro-EU affiliations.
    Since the fall of the USSR, socialists have been ferreting away, trying to impose their views by less obvious means and the EU is one of them – EUSSR is not entirely frivolous humour.
    Seeing our resident socialist disagree with you on this point, brings a wry smile.
    En passant, I also have to say how much I object to those silly titles these senior church people sport. ‘Most reverend, Right Honourable, Lord – What a load of anachronistic tosh.
    .

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    • The Archbishop of Canterbury is always appointed to the Privy Council – hence the Right Honourable. As for the rest of his job description, it’s really no business of atheists and other members of the vast legion of the damned to pronounce judgment on.

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    • Nationalism is hard wired into humans. Any system hoping to abolish it will fail, as we are beginning to see in the EU.

      As to freedom of movement, one can understand why millions of people from less agreeable countries would like to move here. Not sure quite why we’d want to have them, though, in this overcrowded island.

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  4. As with some, I am pro-Brexit but not entirely anti-EU. Short of a mass cull of Brussels bureaucracy, Brexit is the best and probably last opportunity to deliver a stern rebuke to the empire builders. It would be a pity if the various arms of the British establishment continue to see this as an exercise in patronising us.

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    • To a degree, yes. I am a Euro nationalist, as opposed to a British nationalist. Within British Nationalism there is also Scots, Welsh, Cornish, Irish, and several other varieties. The problems come when one group tries to claim that their identity is superior or has more validity than others.

      But even so nationalism need not mean hard borders.

      I can think of several European countries that are rather more agreeable than here.

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      • Euro nationalist lol. You do mean the currency I take it?
        I can think of many places that look great from a distance…. no disrespect but appreciating a painting is very different from being a subject in it.
        I can think of many places I’d like to go visit – where I’d like to live. France, Germany, Spain, Italy – none of them cut it for me… not even the US or Canada.
        I note the confusion, in recent times, a confusion between the EU and Europe. Europe is not a nation. Most normal people would consider their proselytizers as fanatics.

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        • No, I mean I am European first and then English.

          The countries I had in mind were Denmark, Sweden, and Finland, all of which have a better way of life than here. I despise what’s happening in the US and Canadian culture doesn’t appeal to me.

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          • My mother’s side of my family fled Estonia and other places to live either side of the 49th parallel. War changes many things. It’s possible I have Soviet blood; that empire is no more and I’m glad.
            I think first and foremost I am a Burnley nationalist. We have a lot of England players you know. I could have an affiliation for Rossendale – I lived there for 10 years and I bet they’d make a great nation – perhaps they could meddle in Burnley politics,as part of an expansionist policy; you know, just like Brussels did in Ukraine. Does this sound like identity politics gone mad?
            🙂
            Now I’ve got some football to watch.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Burnley did very well last season and one of their players arguably did even better against Argentina earlier today. I support Chelsea, though I’ve never lived anywhere near it. After two cities and about nine counties my geographical affiliation to anywhere is a bit sketchy.

              I’m enjoying the football as well.

              I do think nations are somewhat bogus structures while regional cultural identities do at least have some validity.

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