I wrote this in an article in May 2017, after Article 50 was triggered:
The European Union referendum was (and the aftermath still is) in my view, one of the most unpleasant, vitriolic and divisive political campaigns I can remember in my life time. There were, and are, many ignorant and untruthful viewpoints expressed – on both sides of the debate – and there are some politicians whose opinions turn my stomach.
Nothing much has changed. In fact, you could argue it’s got much worse.
In recent weeks we have seen the government’s proposed Brexit Withdrawal Agreement defeated by a historic majority and Theresa May’s government surviving a vote of no confidence triggered by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn after the Prime Minister’s deal was voted down.
We’ve also seen various backbench amendments ranging from an extension of Article 50 and the introduction of a second referendum (the so-called ‘Peoples Vote’). None of which seems to be bringing any clarity as to what legislation will be in place on 29 March 2019.
In the early stages of the Brexit negotiations Theresa May said: “No deal is better than a bad deal”, but subsequently she has negotiated to avoid a ‘no deal’ … and with concerns expressed around the so-called Northern Ireland ‘Back Stop’ the Prime Minister is going back to Brussels, with a mandate from Parliament, looking to renegotiate the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.
I’ve always thought that politics and religion don’t mix easily and that the church would do better to remain neutral on contentious political issues (though there is something to be said about the responsibility we all have to ‘speak truth to power’ for those who can’t be heard). As I also wrote two years ago:
Christians are commanded in the Bible to ‘pray for all who have authority, that we may live peaceful lives’. Churches are praying for the Prime Minister, her Cabinet, and all those involved in the negotiations around our withdrawal from the EU in the coming months. We pray that God would give His wisdom to those He has given authority and influence and we pray for the ‘common good’ of our community, constituency and nation and that the outcomes of the negotiations would be fair and just for everyone.
That is still my prayer.
As Christians we are called to be people of hope at all times. And at the confusion, and chaos surrounding Brexit this need is more pressing than ever. We are people who believe there is hope for everyone in Jesus. Framing everything around this hope we have in Jesus is not a copping out as some might suggest, it is simply speaking out what we believe.
Jesus came to make all things new. He came to seek and save the lost. And we, His people, are called to follow Him and make disciples of all nations. Brexit will not stop that, and the political debates of recent days, weeks, months and years will not change that. We are not resigned to the inevitability of forces outside of our control, but we are in the hands of the One who holds the whole world in His hands.
To be living at such a time as this is, surely, a significant opportunity for Christian’s to offer a distinctively different way of living for those who have lost confidence in Westminster by reminding them of the hope and confidence we can have in Jesus, who is: ‘The same yesterday, today and forever.’
May we be a people of hope in a nation crying out for a way out of the current chaos and confusion.
This is a copy of my article for the February 2019 edition of the Billericay ‘Around Town Magazine’