Reuniting country after Brexit will be a ‘huge challenge’, says Bishop

Bishop Martin Seeley is concerned about Britain's future after Brexit Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

Bishop Martin Seeley is concerned about Britain's future after Brexit Picture: LUCY TAYLOR

The Rt Rev Martin Seeley, the most senior Church of England clergyman in Suffolk, has warned that Britain is in “serious danger” of ending up a shattered and divided nation when leaving the European Union.

It’s a view Brexit supporters would challenge – pointing out that the move is the will of the people and claiming it will bring enormous economic and cultural benefits for Britain.

Bishop Martin, Bishop of the Diocese of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, said the vote had led to a ‘‘deeply divided’’ Government and opposition party and this reflected deep divisions within the country.

He said: “We need to look ahead and work for what will happen after March, however smooth, straightforward, chaotic, or catastrophic the transition is.

‘‘The public anxiety is palpable, and it will not take much to shift it into panic. The polarisation of views, with some quite appalling statements from either extreme, makes forging a united community, a united country, a huge challenge.’’

Bishop Martin is urging everyone, irrespective of their views, to start to strengthen relationships across divisions within the UK – and decide what sort of world they wanted to leave for their children.

He said: ‘‘We need to listen to the views, the opinions, the experiences of those that are very different from our own and try to see from their point of view.

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‘‘That is not to agree with one another, or to make each one’s experience our own. But it is to try to understand, and that is the first step to healing the deep rifts that have opened up in our society now.

‘‘Brexit may touch us personally and practically, or touch us because we passionately believe in the rightness or wrongness of the decision to leave. In the end, looking ahead, what really matters are our relationships, and how we live together.”

Research, published this month in the journal Religion, State and Society, found 66% of CofE Christians want to leave the EU, compared with the national average of 53%. However, the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby supports remaining in the EU and has described the EU as the ‘‘greatest dream realised for human beings since the fall of the Western Roman Empire.’’

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