THE ARCHBISHOP of York today endorsed Theresa May’s Brexit deal – and warns that a second referendum would undermine trust and potentially risk “civil unrest and violence” on the streets of Britain.
Dr John Sentamu says the notion of a “pure” Brexit was “a childish dream” – and that “no serious politician should have entertained it” – as he reminded MPs that their primary duty is to bring “order” to the “chaos” engulfing the House of Commons.
“To do otherwise is to abuse the considerable people have entrusted in it,” writes the Church of England’s second most senior cleric in an exclusive column published by The Yorkshire Post.
One of the first national public figures to break ranks and support Mrs May’s attempt to put the national interest first, his intervention comes at the start of another critical week for the Prime Minister as MPs press for the Government to release the full legal advice presented to the Cabinet on Brexit outcomes rather than a summary.
Five days of debate on Mrs May’s deal will begin in the House of Commons, culminating in a crucial vote on Tuesday next week that the embattled PM is expected to lose heavily following a raft of Ministerial resignations as the rebellion by both Brexiteers and Remain supporters shows no sign of abating.
Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer said yesterday it was “inevitable” that Labour would table a vote of no confidence in the Government – and try to force an early election – if the Brexit blueprint is defeated by MPs.
However, Dr Sentamu, who voted Remain in the 2016 referendum, says he will support the Government after going through the Brexit strategy “with a fine-tooth comb”, and fears that public confidence in MPs could be irrevocably damaged if deadlock at Westminster led to another public vote.
He says “re-running referenda” erodes trust, adding: “The further draining away of trust from an already discredited political class would be of very great danger to the future government of Britain. Permanent loss of confidence in governmental institutions always results in civil unrest and violence.”
Critical of those political ideologues who believed Brexit would provide a clean break from the EU, the Archbishop says politics is always about “compromise” and the tone of forthcoming debates at Westminster – and in the country at large – will shape the UK’s future relations with Europe.
“We should continue to work and walk together. Reconciliation, and honourable political and economic accommodation, are always possible,” he added. “This is the time to find a still small voice of calm and begin the process of healing any divisions. I, for one, will be praying that members of the House of Commons will lead us with wisdom and insight, and put aside all partial affections, and demonstrate true charity towards each other.”
Temper your Brexit language, urges Archbishop of Canterbury
POLITICIANS have been urged to tone down their Brexit exchanges by the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The comments by Justin Welby echo previous interventions by Nick Baines, the Bishop of Leeds.
Yet, while critics say the Church should not intervene in politics, Archbishop Welby said: “I think the way forward is there needs to be a reluctance to treat the other as an enemy but to say we are on nation, one people.
“I hope and request that political leaders will be moderate in their language, that we will calm down the hatreds that have arisen over the last few years, that we will move towards reconciliation.”