Archbishop of York calls for reconciliation and a more civil Brexit debate

On 12th December 2018 Lord Dykes asked Her Majesty’s Government “what representations they have received on a People’s Vote on Brexit.” The Archbishop of York, Most Revd John Sentamu, asked a follow-up question:

The Archbishop of York: My Lords, would the Minister agree with the African sentiment that when two elephants fight, the grass gets hurt? Is it now time to look for reconciliation as a nation and move forward? Is it now time to stop point-scoring and actually listen to one another with a sense of humility, humbleness and kindness and to have more civil discourse? Otherwise, elephants are fighting and the grass is getting hurt. Continue reading “Archbishop of York calls for reconciliation and a more civil Brexit debate”

Bishop of Chester asks Government about nature of backstop in EU Withdrawal Agreement

On 10th December 2018, the Prime Minister’s statement on the UK’s exit from the European Union was repeated in the House of Lords. The Bishop of Chester, the Rt Revd Peter Forster, asked a question in response:

The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, I want to take the House back to the concept of a backstop. Is not the nature of a backstop that it must be a backstop? ​A backstop that one party can unilaterally abrogate somehow ceases to be a backstop. How can you negotiate away a backstop and it still remain a backstop? Continue reading “Bishop of Chester asks Government about nature of backstop in EU Withdrawal Agreement”

Bishop of Leeds comments on Prime Minister’s EU Withdrawal statement

18.12.05 Leeds Brexit deal debateOn 10th December 2018, the Prime Minister’s statement on the UK’s exit from the European Union was repeated in the House of Lords. The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, asked a question in response:

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, the Prime Minister says in her Statement that those who continue to disagree need to shoulder the responsibility of advocating an alternative solution that can be delivered. Surely that is everybody’s responsibility. She goes on to ask people to be honest about the implications of what they want. However, it seems to me that people have been honest for the last couple of years but they have not been listened to. Has the time now come for the Prime Minister and the Government to stop playing a zero-sum game and, on a cross-party basis, find a credible way ahead?

Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds comments on Prime Minister’s EU Withdrawal statement”

Bishop of Leeds speaks in debate on EU Withdrawal Agreement

On 5th December 2018 the House of Lords debated a motion to take note of the Government’s EU Withdrawal Agreement, alongside an Opposition motion to regret it. The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, I wish that I could pack as much into a single speech as the noble Lord, Lord Bilimoria, but I defy the challenge.

It is perhaps not a bad idea at this stage in the debate just to take a step back and to remember what the point of all this is. I was doing “Thought for the Day” on Radio 4 this morning and picked up on three words from the title of a Theos think-tank report on resilience in the north-east of England—people, place and purpose. They are three words that offer us a lens through which to see what all this is about. I endorse what the most reverend Primate said this morning in his speech.

Whatever the ultimate outcome, one of the legacies of the Brexit process thus far is, as I have said before, a corruption of public discourse, polarisation between people and communities, and a too frequent reduction of the polity to the merely economic. People are now too often categorised as either Punch or Judy; argument and nuance are dismissed in favour of emotive ad hominem judgment.

Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds speaks in debate on EU Withdrawal Agreement”

Archbishop of Canterbury speaks on EU Withdrawal Agreement

On 5th December 2018 the House of Lords debated a motion to take note of the Government’s EU Withdrawal Agreement, alongside an Opposition ‘motion to regret’. The Archbishop of Canterbury, Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby, spoke in the debate, emphasising the importance of reconciliation and for the poorest in society to be protected should there be an economic downturn. 

The Archbishop of Canterbury: My Lords, of the choice of psalms that form part of our daily prayers in the Lords, we have Psalm 46, which we heard today,

“The nations rage, the kingdoms totter”,

and Psalm 121, which we will doubtless hear tomorrow,

“I lift up my eyes to the hills …

My help comes from the Lord,

who made heaven and earth”.

Eyes need to be lifted now more than ever, and that is a gift of this House, perhaps more than others. It is a skill and a calling here.

The withdrawal agreement and the political declaration are essentially political more than economic; the debate has moved on from the referendum campaign, which was the other way round. Another change, as we know particularly since yesterday evening, is that the great decisions are now left firmly in the hands of Parliament—as is right.

The decision on this agreement and consequent legislation is thus about not just the immediate politics but national policy and identity, and our future place in the world and how we develop it. It is long term: it is for the child born yesterday and not just for parliamentarians today. The decision must be made in the interests of those who will be here for the long term. In the midst of political struggle, that is a very hard thing to do, but it is the calling of Parliament and one to which it has risen in equal crises in the past. Continue reading “Archbishop of Canterbury speaks on EU Withdrawal Agreement”

Bishop of Leeds calls for honesty in discourse and about deep challenges UK faces with Brexit

On 20th November 2018 Government Minister Lord Callanan led a debate in the House of Lords on the motion “That this House takes note of the statement by the Prime Minister repeated by the Lord Privy Seal on 15 November relating to the European Union exit negotiations.” The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, spoke in the debate:

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, only four months remain before we walk arm-in-arm to the sunlit uplands where the easiest deal in history will have been made and everybody will be happy—except we know that this is not the case.

Other noble Lords will concentrate on the details of the deal—a word I loathe because it reduces an existential question simply to a matter of trade and transaction—and the position in which it leaves us. I want to pick up on one line of the Prime Minister’s Statement to the House last week, which I questioned in the short debate on Thursday:

“If we get behind a deal, we can bring our country back together and seize the opportunities that lie ahead”.—[Official Report, Commons, 15/11/18; col. 1982.]

I asked if the promise to bring our country back together was credible and achievable and, if so, how it was to be done. The answer was simply a repeat of mantras about the deal. Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds calls for honesty in discourse and about deep challenges UK faces with Brexit”

Bishop of Leeds asks if PM’s aim to bring country back together after Brexit is credible and achievable

On 15th November 2018 the Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, responded to a Government statement on Brexit negotiations:

Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds asks if PM’s aim to bring country back together after Brexit is credible and achievable”