The UK has voted to leave the European Union. As a Christian Brexiteer I’m delighted, but not all my brothers and sisters in Christ share my elation. Some perceive voting to leave as an endorsement of an antiChristian politic of fear, xenophobia and prejudice; one that rejects peace, unity and international brotherhood. I think they are mistaken.
This wasn’t an election, a vote on specific immigration or economic policies, or on political personalities. We are asking a question on nothing less than the constitutional status of our country. Did we ever confirm that the UK should be part of an international political superstructure and customs union to which we handed over sovereign powers, including our trading powers?
For Christians, I think the answer must surely have been no. It is hard to see how we could agree with what the EU essentially is: a protection zone designed to privilege producers within its member states. The system of high tariffs and subsidies, such as the monstrously wasteful Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), continues to penalise people in some of the poorest countries in the world by undermining their comparative advantage in primary and secondary sector industries. This retards the advancement of developing countries to the benefit of rich Europeans, an institutional injustice of which it has always been profoundly unethical for our country to be a part.
The EU has spent millions of euros in support of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), one of the world’s largest abortion providers. Moreover, the European jurisprudence contained serious potential consequences for the further degradation of marriage, of right-to-life protections and religious freedom. Christianity, with its countercultural social message, would have been severely compromised by a Remain vote.
Given how irreformable the EU is, as David Cameron discovered, these are insuperable issues. In completely reclaiming our sovereign powers, we can now choose to take our country in another direction, and this can be a liberal and internationalist approach. The UK could lead the whole world as an example of freedom, justice and openness.
So, far from being the insular caricature of the motivation for a Leave vote – one that I do not recognise in myself or those I know who voted to go – I see a vote to leave as a positive and optimistic act; one that sees our United Kingdom having a global vocation that goes far beyond the borders of Europe. Those of us who voted for Leave believe in our country as a force for real good in the world that, unhampered by the democratically unaccountable protectionist racket of the EU, could manifest its full potential. With the right political activity from Christians and our fellow countrymen, this vision can now become a reality.
Despite the division and disappointment this referendum result has caused, this is a historic decision that will be very good indeed for the social and moral values of Christianity, and – not without our own efforts – will allow the countercultural nature of Christianity to flourish.
Peter D Williams is executive officer of Right To Life