[ACNS, by Gavin Drake] The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby has described the campaign leading up to the UK’s Brexit vote as “unacceptable”. And he said that events in the United Kingdom since the country voted in a referendum to leave the European Union, had led to “some of the most traumatic and dynamic changes that we have known.”
Speaking in a debate in the House of Lords – the upper house of the British Parliament – Archbishop Welby described the campaign leading up to last month’s referendum as “robust” but said that, “at times [it] veered over the line on both sides.”
“It was not merely robust, but unacceptable,” he said. “Through such comments were created cracks in the thin crust of the politeness and tolerance of our society, through which, since the referendum, we have seen an out-welling of poison and hatred that I cannot remember in this country for very many years.
“It is essential, not only for this House [of Lords] but for the leaders of both sides and throughout our society, to challenge the attacks, xenophobia and racism that seem to have been felt acceptable, at least for a while.”
He urged Britain’s politicians to tackle inequality and to invest in public health. “Last week we saw horrifying figures on the levels of child poverty in this country. We have seen a widening of the unfairness in our society, and with that it is no surprise that some shocking things have emerged in the last few days. . . We need a renewal of a commitment to the common good and of solidarity. We need a sense of generosity, hospitality and gratuity, of the overflowing of the riches and flourishing that we possess, not only into our society but across the world.”
The Archbishop explained that he was trying to organise a debate in the House of Lords on Friday on the nature of British values.
- Click here to read the full text of Archbishop Welby’s speech