07 March 2017, The Tablet

Archbishop of Canterbury opposes second Brexit referendum for 'divided' country

UK is the most divided country Welby has lived in in his lifetime, he tells House of Lords during Brexit debate

The UK feels like the "most divided country" he has lived in "in his lifetime", the Archbishop of Canterbury has told his fellow peers during his first speech in the House of Lords debate on the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill - report stage, on Tuesday (7 March).

Stressing that the Anglican bishops in the House of Lords do not act as a party and hold differing views, Justin Welby told a packed second chamber that how we leave the EU should not come down to a "binary yes/no" choice - like the referendum vote to leave last year. 

However, the Archbishop of Canterbury confirmed that he would be voting against holding a second referendum, believing that to do so would “add to our divisions” as a country and increase bitterness. It will also not be democratic, he told the House of Lords.

Prime Minister Theresa May wants to notify the European Union by the end of the month that the UK is triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, which starts the process of leaving the unions. However, she needs the approval of both houses of Parliament to do so.

The House of Commons has approved legislation which would kick-start the two-year process, but the Lords has already amended the bill and Labour, Lib Dem and crossbench peers are seeking further changes during the debate on Tuesday.


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