Justin Welby urges Government to reach out to other parties for Brexit stance
The Archbishop of Canterbury has added his voice to calls for the Government to reach out to other political parties to arrive at a common position on Brexit.
Justin Welby said talks across the political spectrum – as well as with faith groups and other parts of society – could help to bring about an “internal reconciliation”.
His comments follow a string of high-profile figures calling for a cross-party Brexit commission to thrash out the UK’s priorities for the negotiations with Brussels, which began earlier this week.
The Government has distanced itself from the idea – though Theresa May has stressed she wants the “widest possible consensus” on the UK’s position.
The Archbishop, who last year said there had been an “out-welling of poison and hatred” after the referendum, underlined the need for the Brexit process to heal divisions.
In a House of Lords debate on foreign affairs, he said: “With many others, I would want to argue that we need a structurally based approach in our politics to arrive at cross-party positions that unify us in front of the European Union and have the long-term flourishing of this country at our heart, as well as the urgent need for a process of internal reconciliation between social groups, faiths, generations and regions.
“The future of this country is not a zero-sum, winner-take-all calculation but must rest on the reconciled common good arrived at through all our normal debates and diversity.”
He also stressed the importance of the Government fulfilling its rhetoric on achieving a lasting “partnership” with the EU through the departure process.
“British values and European values are rooted in the same soil and the great test of 65 million refugees internationally and vast effects of climate change will require European partnership if they are to be effective for the poorest of the Earth and for our own futures,” he added.
“Partnership requires first that our parting is carried out well.”
A number of senior political figures – including William Hague, Nicola Sturgeon and former Labour minister Andrew Adonis – have proposed a commission to attempt to reconcile differences between parties and areas of the UK over the approach to Brexit.
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