What does Brexit mean? This is the question of the moment, given that those politicians who led the campaign for it have mostly resigned and are certainly not forthcoming about what they had in mind. It has left others trying to make sense of it all, for the good of the country, and now we know we will have a ‘remain’ voting Prime Minister!
One argument raised for Brexit has been a broadening of Britain’s commercial interests around the world, which might be a positive view if the markets in mind were not those, like China, with serious human rights issues. The loudest popular voices in support of Brexit have been around the issue of immigration, but all in terms of shutting borders and some to ‘send them home’. The popular media have given little or no coverage to the questions around why there are so many refugees and that it might make sense to do something to tackle the causes rather than shut out the problems. The false slogan about diverting £350million per week from the EU to the NHS is obscene, when this sort of finance spent appropriately in other parts of the world might contribute to combatting some of the causes of the situation.
If leaving the EU gives the UK any financial gain, then I hope that it is spent to counter some of the horrendous poverty that persuades so many to leave their home to follow a dream of prosperity elsewhere, to build trade with those parts of the world that need it the most to build a prosperous home for their people. I suspect, though, that the immediate aim will have the further prosperity of the UK as a priority and the deals will be made with the economic powers of the world.
I hesitate to voice my opinions because I am very aware that it is a very complex problem and the political, economic and security issues are largely beyond my full understanding. However, there are some very simple and straightforward principles at play in this and they can be found within the teaching of Jesus. They are to do with loving the neighbour and the least. They are to do with life-giving sacrifice and the widow’s mite. They are about an interdependence that enables all to be satisfied even when resources are finite (five loaves and two fish). The politicians will not dare to risk their positions for such principles. It falls then to the Christian community, along with other faith communities, to put these principles at the centre of our national life.