THE future between the UK and Europe should be “sustained by the virtues of friendship and good neighbourliness”, the Bishop of Coventry, Dr Christopher Cocksworth, said this week.
Speaking in the House of Lords’ debate on the Queen’s Speech, on Tuesday, Dr Cocksworth urged the Government that the UK should “be the sort of friend and neighbour who is truly concerned with not only our interests but the interests and the good of others” after Brexit. He said that European reconciliation was an “urgent priority”.
In her announcement of the Government’s agenda on Monday, during the State Opening of Parliament, the Queen said that its aim was “to work towards a new partnership with the European Union based on free trade and friendly co-operation”.
Dr Cocksworth asked: “What is the strategy for repairing the damage done to our relationships with European partners, not only in government but at every other level of society?
“How are the Government encouraging civil society to get ready for Brexit by shoring up relationships and friendships between cities, organisations, and schools, just as we are in the churches?”
One church in Chichester diocese, St Mary’s, Horsham, has set up a Brexit-stress chapel where people can “pray for the nation”.
Its Assistant Curate, the Revd Rebecca Tuck, told the West Sussex County Times this week that people are “very keen to be praying especially at this time as difficult political decisions are being made”.
St John the Baptist, Bromsgrove, in Worcester diocese, has launched “@1”, a daily safe space at 1 p.m. for people to talk about their worries to do with Brexit, and listen to others. It will run until at least 1 November
The Team Rector of Bromsgrove, the Revd David Ford, said last week: “We hope that by fulfilling the churches’ traditional role of offering sanctuary, a safe space, our communities can find the peace and the courage we need for whatever lies ahead.”
The Queen’s Speech, on Monday, was dominated by Bills relating to post-Brexit needs, but there were also announcements of a renewed focus on law and order, and proposals to oblige people to show ID before being allowed to vote. It was used by the Conservatives to showcase their policies in advance of a possible General Election.
Many were critical of the proposals. The chief executive of the Children’s Society, Mark Russell, said that it had failed to “rise to the challenge” of transforming childhood.
He said on Monday: “Children and young people in this country are growing up in some of the hardest times in recent history. As child poverty grows, and key support services disappear, young people are becoming increasingly less happy with how their lives are going. Fundamental reform is needed to transform childhood, but this Queen’s Speech fails to rise to the challenge.”
The leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, called it a “farce”. Speaking in the House of Commons on Monday, he said: “The Prime Minister promised that this Queen’s Speech would dazzle us. On closer inspection, it turns out to be nothing more than fool’s gold.”