ADVERTISING
 
Sunday, February 17   Sign in or Register
 
Evangelical Focus
 

 
ADVERTISING
 
 
FOLLOW US ON
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Google +
  • Instagram
  • Soundcloud
 

Newsletter
Newsletter, sign up to receive all our News by email.
 

POLL
Bible literacy
How often do you read the Bible?







SEE MORE POLLS
 

 
TOP 10 MOST VIEWED



Jonathan Tame
 

Why unity matters

With such division in our political leadership, is there any wonder that the tensions over Brexit remain so high?

JUBILEE CENTRE AUTHOR Jonathan Tame 24 OCTOBER 2018 15:30 h GMT+1
Prime Minister Theresa May visited Belgium to attend the EU Council. During her visit she held a bilateral meeting with Leo Eric Varadkar, Taoiseach of Ireland. / Number 10 (Flickr, CC)

Theresa May came back from Brussels last week having failed to reach any breakthrough on the vexed issue of the Irish border backstop (how to ensure there will be no return to a hard border in the event that the UK and EU fail to agree a new trade deal within the transition period after Brexit next March).



Waiting for her return were members of her own party who had been arguing over how much say Parliament should have over the final deal on the terms of withdrawal. Some Conservative MPs had also reacted sharply to the PM’s suggestion to extend the transition period to allow more time to negotiate a trade deal that would prevent a hard Irish border.



One wonders which group Mrs May finds it easier to negotiate with: the leaders of the EU27 nations, or the factions within her own party.  The problem is that a clear mandate is needed to negotiate well, and because she failed to secure that in the snap general election last year, the PM has a wafer thin majority in parliament. It’s a titanic struggle to get consensus in her cabinet, let alone in her party. With such division in our political leadership, is there any wonder that the tensions over Brexit remain so high?



The President of Lithuania hit the nail on the head on Wednesday when she said, ‘We do not know what [the UK government] want, they do not know themselves what they really want – that’s the problem.’  The EU Referendum was supposed to bring resolution to divided opinions about the value of EU membership – primarily in the Conservative Party – but since then the country has become more and more deeply divided over the issue.



The verse in the Bible that comes to mind is, ‘No house divided against itself can stand’ (Mark 3:25).  This has been quoted many times in politics, one notable case being Abraham Lincoln in 1858.  Before becoming US president, he declared that the government could not endure, divided as it was over slavery.  He said the Union would cease in the end to be divided – but not by breaking up; it would have to become either all one thing or all the other.  Tragically it took a four year civil war and the death of three-quarters of a million people to resolve the issue of slavery and keep the Union together.



Slavery had come to permeate every other political question in America in the late 1850s, and in a similar way, Brexit is the one overriding issue in Britain today. Of course, in most ways there is no comparison between these two situations, yet I can’t help but wonder whether the greater issue today is not Brexit per se, but, as it was in Lincoln’s time, our ability to remain united as a country. I’m not thinking primarily about the nations of the United Kingdom, but across our society more generally, the ability to hammer out differences and reach a consensus over the way forward.



The first-past-the-post system of British elections makes for adversarial politics; we accept the ‘winner-takes-all’ principle because there is always a time limit on any regrettable decision: the longest we have to put up with a government we dislike is 5 years. But with Brexit it’s different. For a generation immersed in the ethic of consumerism (if you don’t like something you’ve bought you can always take it back), it can be a struggle to accept the permanence of leaving the European Union. There is no easy going back – not without losing our hard fought exceptions and currency – which is why those marching on Saturday called for a second Referendum while there is still time, before the axe falls on 29th March next year.



Although I voted firmly to Remain, I believe that it’s quite possible for Britain to be a successful nation – in the long term – either in or out of the EU.  The ‘prize’ of Brexit is the long term independence and sovereignty of the UK parliament, but no-one should fool us into thinking that extricating Britain from four decades of integrating our economy and institutions into the European Union is possible without a costly period of adjustment over a number of years.



But will that prize still be there if, through the fraught process of leaving the EU, the political fabric of our society becomes unravelled? Our ability to debate differences civilly, respect others with opposing views, accept a government we didn’t vote for, protest lawfully, uphold civil society and ultimately seek the common good are crucial to the freedom and prosperity of this country – and these values were formed over centuries of Christian influence.



The fight for EU membership will soon be over, but the struggle for British democracy is what matters more.



Jonathan Tame, Director of the Jubilee Centre (Cambridge, UK).



This article first appeared on the Jubilee Centre website and was republished with permission.


 

 


0
COMMENTS

    If you want to comment, or

 



 
 
YOUR ARE AT: - - - Why unity matters
 
ADVERTISING
 
 
 
AUDIOS Audios
 
Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels Julia Doxat-Purser: 25 years of EEA office in Brussels

An interview with the socio-political representative of the European Evangelical Alliance about how evangelical Christians work at the heart of the European Union.

 
Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church Lars Dahle: Nominal Christianity, a mission field for the church

An interview with Lars Dahle, of the Steering Committee of the Lausanne Movement Global Consultation on Nominal Christianity held in Rome.

 
Michael Ramsden: Communicating the Gospel in today’s societies Michael Ramsden: Communicating the Gospel in today’s societies

RZIM International Director Michael Ramsden responds to questions about the secularisation of Europe, the role of Christians in public leadership and the new ‘culture of victimism’.

 
PICTURES Pictures
 
Bulgaria: Evangelicals ask government to protect religious minorities Bulgaria: Evangelicals ask government to protect religious minorities

Christians rallied in Sofia on November 18 to defend their rights. It is the second Sunday of peaceful demonstrations against a new religion draft law that could severely restrict religious freedom and rights of minority faith confessions.

 
Photos: #WalkForFreedom Photos: #WalkForFreedom

Abolitionists marched through 400 cities in 51 countries. Pictures from Valencia (Spain), October 20.

 
Photos: Reaching people with disabilities Photos: Reaching people with disabilities

Seminars, an arts exhibition, discussion and testimonies. The European Disability Network met in Tallinn.

 
VIDEO Video
 
In the workshop of cartoonist Alain Auderset In the workshop of cartoonist Alain Auderset

The Swiss-Spanish artist and Evangelical Focus author speaks about how he relates work and faith.

 
Can science explain everything? Can science explain everything?

A debate about science and faith between Oxford Emeritus Professor of Mathematics John Lennox and Oxford Emeritus Professor in Chemistry Peter Atkins. Moderated by journalist Justin Brierley.

 
The gospel in East Ukraine's prisons The gospel in East Ukraine's prisons

Many are coming to Christ in some of the toughest prisons in this troubled part of the country.

 
 
Follow us on Soundcloud
Follow us on YouTube
 
 
WE RECOMMEND
 
PARTNERS
 

 
AEE
EVANGELICAL FOCUS belongs to Areópago Protestante, linked to the Spanish Evangelical Alliance (AEE). AEE is member of the European
Evangelical Alliance and World Evangelical Alliance.
 

Opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors and do not necessarily represent the views of Evangelical Focus.