THE Archbishop of York’s intervention in the Brexit debate is characteristically wise, making the telling point that however it is eventually resolved, the divisions it has wrought in Britain must be healed if the country is to have a bright future.
Whether one agrees or not with Dr John Sentamu’s support for the Prime Minister’s deal with the EU that is likely to face opposition from all sides when it comes before the Commons on December 11, the Archbishop is surely correct in challenging MPs to bring order from the current chaos.
The extent of the difficulties Theresa May faces was further underlined yesterday by the shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer revealing that Labour will press for a vote of no confidence in the Government if the deal is not backed by the Commons, holding out the prospect of a general election.
That would only deepen the divisions, both in politics and in the country as a whole. Politicians would do well to heed Dr Sentamu’s counsel that negotiation and compromise are the only possible ways forward, and entrenched positions can only result in even greater polarisation.
The Archbishop also reminds them of something that has tended to be forgotten in the increasingly fractious debate – the need for Britain to maintain cordial relationships with our European neighbours. However Brexit turns out, our country will need to work with the EU in the years ahead, and it must do so in a spirit of friendship and co-operation.
As he says: “Reconciliation and honourable political and economic accommodation are always possible.” We forget this at our peril. Brexit is a political issue, but there is a moral dimension to it as well, and nobody will benefit if its legacy is bitterness. Dr Sentamu’s intervention is as timely as it is wise.