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”

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”

Bishop of Leeds highlights support for One Yorkshire devolution deal

On 17th October 2018 Lord Wallace of Saltaire asked Her Majesty’s Government ‘whether they will respond to the One Yorkshire proposals for devolution to a Combined Yorkshire Authority.’ The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, asked a follow up question: 

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, we take the point about the Sheffield city region, but it leaves the rest of Yorkshire wondering where it fits in, and when this will improve for it. We have failing rail infrastructure. In Yorkshire, we have almost total, widespread support for the One Yorkshire devolution deal. A report produced by the Institute for Government has referred to Yorkshire as,

“the hole in the northern powerhouse”.

Although delighted that Sheffield might thrive, the rest of Yorkshire wonders what will happen to it. We are falling behind Manchester and Liverpool in our ability to flex in the economics of the country. Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds highlights support for One Yorkshire devolution deal”

Bishop of Leeds responds to Government statement on Brexit negotiations

Leeds0518On 15th October 2018 Baroness Evans of Bowes Park repeated a Statement that had previously been made by the Prime Minister in the House of Commons on Brexit negotiations. The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, responded to the Statement:

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, the question I have is not political, it is phenomenological. The statement:

“We cannot let this disagreement derail the prospects of a good deal and leave us with a no-deal outcome that no one wants”,

is a statement of unreality. It is clear that there are people, even within the Cabinet, who would be very happy with a no-deal outcome. I wonder if the Minister could comment.

Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds responds to Government statement on Brexit negotiations”

Bishop of Leeds asks about religious literacy in processing asylum claims

Leeds0518cOn 15th October 2018 Baroness Berridge asked Her Majesty’s Government ‘what plans they have to improve the assessment by the Home Office of asylum applications made on the grounds of religious or belief based persecution.’ The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines, asked a follow up question:

The Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, before training is rolled out, will some religious leaders in this country be consulted on what sort of training might be appropriate, and the sort of questions that may be asked of asylum seekers? At the moment, I should be hard-pressed to answer some of them. Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds asks about religious literacy in processing asylum claims”

Bishop of Leeds asks about airport security in light of Salisbury nerve agent poisoning

On 5th September 2015 a Government statement on the nerve agent attack in Salisbury was repeated in the House of Lords. The Bishop of Leeds, Rt Revd Nick Baines, asked a follow up question:

The Lord Bishop of Leeds: My Lords, will the Minister be able to comment on a question that hangs over all this—why the Skripals and why now? It is a matter of timing. Can a statement be made on that at some point because clearly there is a story behind it? My main concern is that we have heard this afternoon that a nerve agent—a chemical weapon—was brought through a civilian airport. I cannot even get a tube of toothpaste through, yet they managed to bring this through and then leave it behind rather indiscriminately, if that is what happened. What are the implications for airport security? Continue reading “Bishop of Leeds asks about airport security in light of Salisbury nerve agent poisoning”