The case for remaining in the European Union has the backing of the Bishop of Croydon, who says that Britain should adopt a greater, leading role in Europe.
Jonathan Clark, who chaired Croydon Council’s Fairness Commission, has this week published what he was at pains to point out is a personal view, “not the view of the Diocese of Southwark, still less the Church of England”.
But it is nonetheless an influential voice from one of south London’s senior and respected prelates.
“If you’re going to have peace, you have to have relationship. Distance creates suspicion and distrust,” Clark says.
“I spend my life helping build healthy communities, and dealing with situations when things go wrong in them, so I hope I have something to offer here,” he writes.
Clark states that he has “become more and more convinced that it is in our best interests to stay in the European Union”.
He writes, “Human beings have a natural tendency to assume the best of themselves and the worst of others – it’s one of those human traits Christians call ‘sin’. The best way to overcome it is to get to know ‘the others’ – so that they are no longer an anonymous and threatening enemy, but a group made up of individuals really quite like us.
“And this is important: peace between nations is not inevitable. Right up to 1914 there were people saying that war in Europe was unthinkable, inconceivable. I’d rather have us round the table arguing about farm subsidies than sitting sullenly apart and getting ever more anxious about what ‘they’ are plotting. Let’s stay together and continue to build a peaceful Europe.
“I have also seen that communities that turn in on themselves do not thrive. It can feel so much safer and more secure to lock the doors and ‘keep out the foreigners’. But in the long term (even in the medium term) it doesn’t work. The flow of new ideas, new energy, new ambition that outsiders bring increases the liveliness and energy of society as a whole. Yes, it means that there is more competition, but we shouldn’t be afraid of that. We have the talent and the ability to rise to the challenge and thrive.”
And Clark concludes by airing the view that the best interests of Britain would be served by playing a strong role within the European Union.
“A community that is strong knows it has something to offer beyond its borders. The UK is a growing and prosperous country – except, often, in our own eyes. We have a huge amount to offer to the rest of the European Union. We do not have to regard ourselves as passive victims of ‘EU directives’ – we have the capacity to make a real difference, to change things for the better.
“We should be talking about leading the EU, not leaving it.”
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