29 Aug 2019

Brexit: Bishops issue letter on 'no deal'

A group of Church of England bishops has issued an open letter on the prospect of a 'no-deal' Brexit and the need for national reconciliation, notwithstanding the potential prorogation of Parliament. 

In their letter, the Bishops, leading Dioceses across England, said:

“As bishops with pastoral responsibilities in communities across urban and rural England, we respond to the call by Jesus to tell the truth and defend the poor. We also recognise that our obligations go beyond England and impact on relations with the wider UK and our neighbours in the EU.”

The letter also notes “the levels of fear, uncertainty and marginalisation in society, much of which lies behind the vote for Brexit, but will not be addressed by Brexit: poor people, EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in Europe must be listened to and respected.”

The full text of the letter is at:

Bishop Robert said:

“I am most grateful to my colleagues in England who, as Diocesan Bishops, have issued an open letter on Brexit.   I completely support and endorse this letter.” 

This letter from Bishops in England followed Bishop Robert’s statement on 25 July when the new UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, took office:

Seen from my Diocese, continental Europeans care very much about us in the UK, and for the future relationship we choose to define with the European Union.  The UK currently finds itself simultaneously in deadlock at home, and at an impasse with the rest of the EU.  

I take a close interest in the way in which over 3 million EU citizens are being treated and represented, particularly in the Brexit context: 2 million plus EU27 citizens resident in the UK, as well as the estimated 1.2 million UK nationals living in the EU27.  

It is no wonder many people in my Diocese believe they are seen as ‘a forgotten million’ by the UK Government. 

There are a huge range of issues that are concerning people, not least on citizens’ rights issues around residency, healthcare, working, doing business, drawing pensions, travelling, and studying.  

A no deal scenario would be disastrous for the UK, and I urge the new UK Prime Minister and Government to do everything they can to avoid it."

Citizens’ Forum proposal

In addition, the Archbishop of Canterbury has conditionally agreed to chair a Citizens’ Forum on Brexit.  In a statement responding to a proposal from a cross-party group of MPs, Archbishop Justin laid out his conditions:

-“First, and indispensably, the Forum should not be a Trojan Horse intended to delay or prevent Brexit in any particular form. That power can only be exercised by the Government and MPs in Parliament. A Forum must be open to all possibilities.”

-Second, that it has cross party support (although its members will not be politicians).

-Third, the process must have time to be properly organised.”

The Archbishop’s statement on this in full is at:

UK Government fund for UK nationals living in the EU

In a further development (30 August), UK Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, has announced a £3M fund for UK nationals living in the EU to get ready for Brexit:

Bishop Robert's office has signed up to the first teleconference on the fund with the FCO and Department for Exiting the EU on 4 September, and we will keep the Diocese closely informed.    

The Government says the fund will focus on UK nationals in the EU "who may struggle to complete the necessary residency applications".