THE Archbishop of Canterbury has apologised for telling Remainers in the UK to “stop whingeing” about the EU referendum result.
His comments criticising those who disputed the result were originally made during a Q & A session at the Greenbelt Festival last month, and reported in this paper (News, 30 August). They were later picked up by other media, such as the Sunday Telegraph, and received a cool reception on social media.
Archbishop Welby responded in a post on his Facebook page on Tuesday, saying that he was “aware of the upset” that his comments had caused. “Clearly, I expressed myself carelessly and insensitively in the moment. I apologise for that and the hurt that people have felt.
“Christians are expected by the Bible to ‘walk in the light’ — to admit when they go wrong.
“What I was aiming to say was that, in this political situation, just talking in increasingly hostile language does us no good. Nor is it helpful to only look backwards. What has happened is past, and every Christian, every citizen, from every side of the debate, should be aiming for reconciliation and working to reunite our country.”
Archbishop Welby, who voted Remain, said that he had not intended to “shape” other people’s votes during the referendum campaign.
“Since then, I have been very clear that the result must be honoured. I have also been clear in saying that a no-deal Brexit, if it impacted most seriously on the poorest and most vulnerable in our society, would be a moral failure. It would be as serious as not honouring the referendum itself.
“I remain concerned about the risks of no-deal Brexit for the people least able to bear them. These risks may or may not turn out to be reality, but we must be very sure that those who need protection are protected.”
He maintained that there was “no single Christian view” on Brexit and that, while robust disagreement was essential: “In that disagreement we must find better language (me included) that helps us remove the bitterness and prioritise each other’s dignity and humanity.
“What is clear is that, no matter the outcome of the Brexit process, bullying one another, misrepresenting the situation, and disparaging each other’s convictions and genuinely held views only leaves us all weaker. . . Politicians bear the brunt of this daily. Let us continue to pray for them, whether we agree or not, for wisdom and strength.”
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