Archbishop of Canterbury to chair citizens’ forum to solve Brexit division in the UK

Monday 2nd September 2019
Justin Welby

While the country awaits what will unfold in the House of Commons this week, with politicians and political pundits trying desperately to predict the outcome, the country as a whole seems as divided as ever by the question of Brexit.

Those eager to leave the European Union are crying foul play that their attempts to depart are being thwarted by parliament and those key to avert a no deal scenario, if not completely remain, are suggesting that the electorate did not vote for the current scenario in the 2016 referendum.

Both sides are accusing the other of acting undemocratically, with both also aware that if the whole shebang ends up in a snap general election, they must be clear about what they could offer to the public as a whole.

MPs across the political spectrum are forming unexpected alliances to push their agenda and now, the unlikely figure of The Archbishop of Canterbury has been drawn into the quagmire.

Of course, while not directly linked to politics, he and 25 other Anglican Bishops do have seats in the House of Lords, so he is not only aware of the country’s political agenda, but is an active participant in it.

In what Justin Welby refers to as, “an unexpected privilege”, he has suddenly been drawn into the Brexit quagmire, albeit in a secular, non political role.

From the outset, Welby made it clear that he was pro-remain, but after the referendum result he was adamant that the outcome of the referendum must be honoured.

It is therefore intriguing that he has been asked by senior MPs, and agreed, to oversee what has been referred to as a citizen’s forum.

This ‘forum’ will be made up of 100 individuals, of all races, creeds, colours, ages and genders, in a kind of emotional temperature taking exercise of the state of the country as a whole.

Welby will hold these meetings in Canterbury Cathedral this month and is expected to present his findings to MPs a couple of weeks before the Halloween deadline.

Interestingly the Archbishop re-itterated that while he was honoured to be asked he would only agree “provided the Forum doesn’t aim to stop or delay Brexit, and has cross-party support."

Involving the Archbishop in such a forum, is yet another example of the strange political landscape that the UK is currently negotiating, mind you whoever would have thought the Queen would have been asked to prorogue parliament?

Eleni Courea on Twitter

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