Archbishop tells PM to ‘draw the poison from Brexit’


Justin Welby and Theresa May.


The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby urged Mrs May to set up a cross-party commission

The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged the Prime Minister to set up a cross-party commission to “draw much of the poison” from Brexit negotiations.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, Justin Welby said that “a country united after Brexit is essential”.

He argued the country needed to create a united negotiating strategy for exiting the EU.

He said the commission should be under the authority of Parliament, and chaired by a senior politician.

The archbishop wrote that – with a hung parliament – there was “an understandable temptation for every difference to become a vote of confidence”.

But he said that would be a “disaster”, as British negotiators would not have “confidence in their backing from the UK”.

He claimed a commission, with parties from the whole political spectrum, could “hold the ring for the differences [in opinion] to be fought out”.

He said it should be under the authority of the Commons, and chaired by a senior politician, but without the authority to bind Parliament.

“We need the politicians to find a way of neutralising the temptation to take minor advantage domestically from these great events,” the archbishop wrote.

He added that Britain’s decision to leave the EU was the third time in two centuries that the UK had to “redefine the place of our country in the world”.


In the same article, the archbishop said the Grenfell Tower fire – and the recent terror attacks in Manchester and London – had “brought out the best of communities in crisis”.

“Communities have staggered, stumbled and pulled themselves up,” he wrote.

“I am so proud and grateful to be part of a country where people at Westminster rush to treat a man who has just tried to kill them, where an imam ensures the would-be killer whose van is still resting on one of his congregation is protected.”