The Bishop of Bristol, Rt Revd Vivienne Faull, has joined 25 Anglican bishops in signing an open letter on the prospect of a 'no-deal' Brexit and the need for national reconciliation
The letter raises concerns about the potential cost of a No Deal Brexit to those least resilient to economic shocks.
It also voices support for the Archbishop of Canterbury who, at the invitation of a group of senior MPs, has agreed in principle to chair a Citizens Forum on Brexit.
The letter reads: "Exiting the EU without an agreement is likely to have a massive impact on all our people and the Government is rightly preparing for this outcome. The Government believes that leaving the EU on 31 October is essential to restoring trust and confidence. It is unlikely, however, that leaving without an agreement, regardless of consequences, will lead to reconciliation or peace in a fractured country. Getting Brexit done will not happen on exit day, and we have to be transparent about the years of work ahead of us in bringing the country together for a better future. We also need to be frank about the potential costs.
"Our main social and political priority must be to leave well, paying particular attention to the impact of political decisions on those most vulnerable.
"We hold different views about Brexit and how our country should proceed from here. However, although we agree that respecting a public vote is essential, democracy and committed debate do not end after the counting of votes. Our concern for the common good leads us to express concern about a number of matters. Our conviction is that good governance can only ever be based on the confidence of the governed, and that includes minorities whose voice is not as loud as others.
"Seeing the evidence of division in every part of England, we are deeply concerned about:
- Political polarisation and language that appears to sanction hate crime: the reframing of the language of political discourse is urgent, especially given the abuse and threats levelled at MPs doing their job.
- The ease with which lies can be told and misrepresentation encouraged: leaders must be honest about the costs of political choices, especially for those most vulnerable.
- The levels of fear, uncertainty and marginalisation in society, much of which lies behind the vote for Brexit, but will not be addressed by Brexit: poor people, EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in Europe must be listened to and respected.
- The Irish border is not a mere political totem and peace in Ireland is not a ball to be kicked by the English: respect for the concerns on both sides of the border is essential.
- The sovereignty of Parliament is not just an empty term, it is based on institutions to be honoured and respected: our democracy is endangered by cavalier disregard for these.
- Attention must be paid not only to the Union, but also to the meaning of Englishness.
"Churches serve communities of every shape, size and complexion. We continue to serve, regardless of political persuasion. We invite politicians to pay attention with us to the concerns we register above and encourage a recovery of civil debate and reconciliation."