Brexit: The Next Five Years

Christians on the Left believe that relationships should underpin the way society operates. God not only models the perfect relationship in the form of the Trinity, but made us in his image (Genesis 1:27) to be relational. Relationship is fundamental to what it means to be human, and many of the problems we face result from the withdrawal of relationship from activity[1]. Our overarching motivation is our longing for a society where the emphasis is placed on people as relational beings under God, rather than as self-centred and individualistic economic units.HolyTrinity.jpg

In the context of foreign policy, this means our government working closely with others for the common good. The countries of Europe are by far our largest trading partners[2], and are geographically our closest neighbours[3]. It is therefore vital that we work together in economic, social and security policy to improve the welfare of citizens across our continent. Furthermore, many of the threats our society faces – climate change, pollution, terrorism, financial instability – have no respect for international boundaries, and can only be solved by co-operating closely and ambitiously with our neighbours.

It is for these reasons that Christians on the Left believes the best future for Britain is one in which we work constructively with our European allies on a broad range of policy issues. Although this philosophy led us to endorse the Remain campaign last June, we accept that the referendum result, together with the vote in Parliament to authorise the triggering of Article 50, gives the government a mandate to begin Brexit negotiations.

We now want to see a government committed to leaving the European Union in a way that allows us to keep as many as possible of our valuable links with Europe. Unfortunately, the prime minister, cowed by the vocal demands of hardliners in her own party, seems intent on dogmatically pursuing a form of ‘hard’ Brexit that risks causing profound damage to the lives of many British people and businesses.

uk_exports_eu_versus_non_eu.pngIt is imperative that we avoid or minimise the creation of tariffs (import taxes) and non-tariff barriers (divergent regulatory standards) on more than £240bn of annual exports to Europe[4], which would wreak havoc on the earnings and jobs of many British companies and workers. We must also resist worrying threats from senior figures to turn Britain into a low-tax, low-regulation economy if favourable exit terms do not transpire. The workers’ rights, health and safety protection, environmental regulation and competition law that comes from our partnership with Europe is not ‘red tape’ to be hacked away, but vitally important legislation that improves everyday life for every UK and European citizen. In these policy areas and others, it is crucial that present standards of legislation and regulation are maintained and extended after the UK leaves the EU and not weakened to suit a deregulated economy that would prioritise profits above people.

Above all we need to focus on relationship. The referendum decision was one that split communities and families across our country. Divisions both within and between the four nations of the union were exposed. Wounds were opened that will need to be healed if our kingdom is to be a united one. It is therefore essential that we have leaders committed to conciliation rather than confrontation.

The present government seems to believe that ‘unity’ means the winning side has the right to impose its view on others. This view is divisive and inflammatory. It is only by forging links and building bridges with others in our communities that we can hope to bring the country together. True unity is rooted in understanding and mutual respect, both of which seem sorely lacking in many parts of the nation.unity.png

Negotiations require a constructive approach to other European countries and the EU institutions, not an adversarial face-off. The current government has proved it is not up to that task. A successful negotiation can only be carried out by a government determined to put ordinary people at the heart of the future of our country and to promote the reconciliation we need. We need a change of direction in our approach. We need a Labour government willing to show real leadership on this important constitutional question.

But amongst the radically different visions of Britain’s place in Europe on offer at this election, we need the humility to recognise that all human institutions and systems are ultimately flawed, because we are flawed creatures. The way we are governed has a huge impact on our earthly lives, but no constitutional status is a cure-all, and none offers answers to humanity’s fundamental questions. We know the best place for our hearts, where our ultimate treasure lies. The overriding desire of Christians on the Left is to see the kingdom, the power and the glory where they truly belong. Amen.

[1] For more on relational politics, please read our director Andy Flannagan’s thoughts at

[2] (this page provides in-depth look at UK-EU trade, with links to relevant government statistics)

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