Bishop of Leeds warns of ‘dishonest language and rhetoric’ in Brexit debate

Leeds 300418 bOn 23rd July 2018 the Government held a debate ‘To move that this House takes note of the preparations and negotiations connected with the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union.’ The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, spoke in the debate:

The Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, other noble Lords will be addressing the details, which leaves me to take a step back to look at culture. At the committee stage of the EU (Withdrawal) Bill I spoke about matters such as the corruption of the public discourse, asking that we in this House do not lose sight of the end to which Brexit is supposed to be the means. ​I tried to pose the existential questions of who we think we are and for whom we are doing what we are doing. However, the debate has coarsened, the ideological divide deepened and poor use of language worsened. What I have to say has nothing to do with leave or remain but where we are now and what shape we might be in in the future.

Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds warns of ‘dishonest language and rhetoric’ in Brexit debate”

Bishop of Southwark – challenges to parliamentary democracy posed by referendums

On 19th July Lord Higgins led a debate on the motion, “That this House takes note of the impact on parliamentary democracy in the United Kingdom of the use of referendums.” The Bishop of Southwark, Rt Revd Christopher Chessun, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Southwark: My Lords, I, too, congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Higgins, on securing the debate, which, as others have observed, is timely. A man who secured a silver medal in the 440 yards relay in the Commonwealth Games in 1950 knows how to pace himself. I also congratulate the noble Lord, Lord Pickles, on his maiden speech with all its fascinating revelations. I look forward to the maiden speech of the noble Lord, Lord Anderson of Ipswich, shortly.

Of course, I acknowledge that the United Kingdom cherishes a parliamentary democracy. That key point, and all that flows from it, has been powerfully argued by the noble Lord, Lord Higgins. It is the genius of this country that over time we have made use of ancient yet enduring institutions and constantly evolving constitutional practices to serve a thoroughly modern society. The Church was present in the counsels that predated Parliament and the estates that first gathered here. It has witnessed both the supremacy of the other place and the extension of the franchise. We are being looked down upon in stone effigy by those who witnessed Magna Carta, including two archbishops. Continue reading “Bishop of Southwark – challenges to parliamentary democracy posed by referendums”

Bishop of Winchester asks about transparency of negotiations for leaving European Union

Bishop of WinchesterOn 29th March 2017, the Leader of the House of Lords repeated a Government statement made in the House of Commons on triggering Article 50. The Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Tim Dakin, asked a question.

The Lord Bishop of Winchester My Lords, from these Benches we welcome the Prime Minister’s Statement, especially the intention of both sides to work together as a priority to solve the complex issues of EU and EEA nationals, not least the many students and academics in our universities.

Continue reading “Bishop of Winchester asks about transparency of negotiations for leaving European Union”

Archbishop of York asks Government about situation of those seeking asylum in the UK after Brexit

Bishop of Leeds responds to statement on Article 50 ruling

Leeds160620On 7th November 2016, Lord Bridges of Headley repeated a Government statement on the judicial ruling that Parliament must trigger the process for leaving the European Union (Article 50). The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Rev Nick Baines, asked a follow-up question.


The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, it has been said that 17 million people voted in favour of leaving the EU; that still leaves a very divided country. Not everybody who voted to remain can be assumed to be trying to thwart the decision of the British people simply by asking legitimate questions. Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds responds to statement on Article 50 ruling”

Bishop of Leeds speaks about the importance of peace and stability after the EU Referendum

Leeds160620On 18th October 2016, Lord Collins of Highbury asked the government what assessment they have made of the potential effect on peace and stability in Europe and around the world of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union. The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, spoke in the debate about the importance of continued interdependence for peace and stability.

The Lord Bishop of Leeds My Lords, recognising that this debate and that to come on Thursday belong together, although I cannot be here on Thursday, I offer this statement by the German theologian Jürgen Moltmann in a book that I finished reading on the train today:

“A free society is not an accumulation of independent individuals; it is a community of persons in solidarity”.

I quote this because the same might equally be applied to nations. It bears repetition that the language and discourse of the referendum—shamelessly, in my view, fuelled by misrepresentations and misleading promises, now apparently acceptable in a so-called “post-factual” world—paid little or no attention to the needs or securities of our international neighbours. They focused purely on the national interests of Britain, as if we can live in isolation or that we can be secure without ensuring the security of our neighbours. I invoke the poet John Donne: in a globalised world, Britain cannot simply see itself as an island. Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds speaks about the importance of peace and stability after the EU Referendum”

Bishop of St Albans says uncertainty and insecurity faces British farming as a result of Brexit

St Albans 2On the 21st July 2016 Baroness McIntosh of Pickering held a debate about “the impact on British farmers of the decision to leave the European Union.” Rt Revd Dr Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans asked the Government to help to cultivate a culture of appreciation among the British public towards British farming. Lord Gardiner of Kimble responded for the Government and his comments can be found below.

The Lord Bishop of St Albans: My Lords, I too thank the noble Baroness, Lady McIntosh, for this debate. I share the delight of other Members of this House that in the recent reshuffle it was neither an exit nor a Brexit but a clear remain vote for the Minister, and not only that but a promotion, so we are delighted and thank him.

Whatever our opinions on Brexit, it is undeniable that British farming faces a period of uncertainty and insecurity. While it is true that the decision to leave the EU will bring some new opportunities for British agriculture in the long term, it is clear that there are substantial challenges ahead. Agriculture is more intimately connected to the European Union than any other UK sector, and the process of unpicking that relationship must be done with utmost care. Continue reading “Bishop of St Albans says uncertainty and insecurity faces British farming as a result of Brexit”