On 28th January 2019 a vote took place on an Opposition Motion on the outcome of Government negotiations with the European Union. Two bishops took part. Baroness smith, who moved the amendment, explained its purpose here. Continue reading “Votes: European Union Withdrawal Agreement”
On 23rd January 2019 the House of Lords considered the Government’s Trade Bill during its Committee stage. The Bishop of Chester, Rt Revd Peter Forster, spoke during debate on Amendment 24, moved by Lord Stevenson of Balmacara, which sought to keep the UK in a customs union with the European Union.
After Clause 5, insert the following new Clause—“Customs union. It shall be the objective of Her Majesty’s Government to take all necessary steps to implement an international trade agreement which enables the United Kingdom to participate after exit day in a customs union with the European Union.”
The Lord Bishop of Chester: My Lords, it is always a pleasure to listen to the noble Lord, Lord Patten of Barnes, especially when religious imagery creeps into his speech with gospel truth and sacerdotal approaches. His opening remark reminded me of Trollope’s definition of hell: an eternity of listening to one’s own sermons. I do not know whether the noble Lord, Lord Patten of Barnes, has similar feelings about his speeches, but they are always wonderful to hear.
On 14th January 2019 the House of Lords debated the Government’s EU Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration. The Bishop of Lincoln, Rt Revd Christopher Lowson, spoke in the debate. His full speech is below:
The Lord Bishop of Lincoln: My Lords, I am honoured to speak after the noble Baroness—honoured and a little daunted. This is the first time I have spoken on this issue. I therefore want to say something about my context of Lincoln and then consider what a Bishop might usefully add to this debate.
As your Lordships know, Lincolnshire is one of the parts of the United Kingdom that voted most emphatically in favour of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, with 66% voting to leave. I have thought hard about why that should be the case. There are the obvious reasons—the tip of the iceberg, if you like. Nationally, these would be described in terms of sovereignty and immigration.
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”
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”
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 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?
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.