Archbishop of Canterbury’s speech in Lords debate on the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill

The referendum campaign, and its aftermath, revealed deep divisions, my Lords, in our society, as the Noble Lord, Lord Hain, has rightly commented; and like him, this feels like the most divided country that I have lived in in my lifetime.

Whatever the outcome of the next two years, our nation’s future – particularly for the most vulnerable – will be profoundly damaged if we arrive in 2019 even more divided, without a common vision to confront the opportunities and challenges before us. To meet these opportunities and challenges – in every aspect of policy and every level of society– we must find a level of national reconciliation. So how we conduct this process is as important as the outcome itself.

I believe it would be dangerous and unwise and wrong to reduce the substance of the terms on which we exit the European Union to the result of a binary yes-no choice taken last summer – and the Government should avoid any inclination to oversimplify the outcome of the most complex peacetime negotiations, probably ever.

But neither is the complexity of a further referendum a good way of dealing with the process at the end of negotiation. It will add to our divisions. It will deepen the bitterness. It is not democratic. It is unwise….

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Posted in --Justin Welby, Archbishop of Canterbury, England / UK, Politics in General, Religion & Culture