*** DEBUG END ***


23 August 2019

WHO will defend the British people against their defenders? The leak at the weekend of the Yellowhammer documents — official assessments of how seriously and how quickly things in the UK will go wrong in the event of a no-deal Brexit on 31 October — has given the general public access to the advice that the Government has been receiving all the while it has been making reassuring and dismissive statements about how smooth a no-deal transition would be. It is just possible to forgive politicians who pursue an ideological line in ignorance of the consequences. This is mere incompetence. There is no excuse for those who promote a policy when they have been fully informed that the con­sequences will be damaging to the people they are supposed to represent. Just one line from the Yellowhammer documents suffices: “Low-income groups will be dispropor­tionately affected by rises in the price of food and fuel.” As for arguing that those in low-income groups were predominantly Leave voters, at no point in the 2016 campaign was the likelihood of economic hardship acknowledged by those such as Boris Johnson who were pushing to leave the EU. The Church’s bias to the poor, though sadly muted these days, none the less requires it to speak out against moves that, on official authority, will cause the poor great hardship.

Baby, bathwater

OUR letters section this week carries strongly expressed reservations about the new proposals for marriage registration. Certainly, when people in the Church were applauding the new equalities included in the Civil Partnerships, Marriages and Deaths (Registration, etc) Act, they appeared not to have considered the implications of what seems, on the face of it, a mere switch in paper-shuffling. But if couples are offered a one-stop-shop option by register offices (or, increasingly registrar-led ceremonies in fancy hotels and not-so-fancy oddball venues), then it is one more disincentive to opt for a church wedding, given that the latter involves what sounds like a redeemable voucher and the need to arrange for it to be presented to a register office within seven days of the wedding. At worst, couples who marry in church will not feel properly married, with the prospect of a further hurdle to get over, and with the risk of a punitive fine should they fail to do so within an arbitrary period. It would be perfectly possible for the information to be prepared digitally in advance, to be confirmed online after the ceremony by the officiating priest. Church House, Westminster, is currently in negotiations with the General Register Office. Sparing clergy the anxiety of incorrectly filling in a certificate — this is a genuine and persistent fear — might be too small a gain when compared with the loss in status of a church wedding.

Browse Church and Charity jobs on the Church Times jobsite

Letters to the editor

Letters for publication should be sent to letters@churchtimes.co.uk.

Letters should be exclusive to the Church Times, and include a full postal address. Your name and address will appear below your letter unless requested otherwise.

Forthcoming Events

Green Church Awards

Closing date: 30 June 2024

Read more details about the awards


Festival of Preaching

15-17 September 2024

The festival moves to Cambridge along with a sparkling selection of expert speakers

tickets available



Festival of Faith and Literature

28 February - 2 March 2025

The festival programme is soon to be announced sign up to our newsletter to stay informed about all festival news.

Festival website


ViSIt our Events page for upcoming and past events 

The Church Times Archive

Read reports from issues stretching back to 1863, search for your parish or see if any of the clergy you know get a mention.

FREE for Church Times subscribers.

Explore the archive

Welcome to the Church Times


To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read four articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)