Why I’m (Probably) Voting Leave image

Why I’m (Probably) Voting Leave

Like Andrew, I have tried to remain (oops!) neutral during the referendum campaign - and was rather gratified that in yesterdays quick Twitter poll it was a 45/55 split as to whether respondents thought I would be Brexit or Remain. In a normal election campaign I will comment on issues, but as far as possible strive to avoid revealing a party position: I just don’t think it is helpful for a pastor to be taking party political positions. I’d rather encourage people to vote, flag up some of the issues we should be thinking about, and acknowledge that Christian freedom of conscience permits varying political viewpoints. This isn’t a normal election though, and as Andrew has let his mask slip to reveal his Remain vote it does seem appropriate for me to lay my cards on the table too. To be honest, I’d rather not have to do this, but feel Andrew’s post has forced me to it – after all, this is my blog too! I’ve been wavering throughout the campaign, but have at last decided to vote Leave (almost certainly...!). For what it’s worth here are my responses to Andrew’s ten considerations explaining why.

1. Love of our neighbours is indeed a guiding principle when it comes to voting. With that I agree. I want my definition of neighbour to be broad though, even broader than those who are my neighbours in the member states of the EU. I’d hate to be thought of as Little Englander, but I don’t want to be a Little European either.
2. Not all economists agree that Brexit will be economically harmful, and the way that the debate has centred so much on economics has been the thing I’ve found most frustrating. The reality is that no one can know: stay or leave, no one can predict what economic winds will blow. But we do know that some EU policies hit the poor hardest, especially farmers in the developing world who are disadvantaged by the CAP. (For example, see this and this.) I’d like us to be a country that is better positioned to be more generous to our poorest neighbours.
3. Experts do get things wrong. The expert consensus was that Britain needed to be part of the Exchange Rate Mechanism. The experts all assured us that the result of the last general election would be a hung parliament. Enough said.
4. Immigration certainly can be good, and there are many on the Leave side who agree with that. Personally, immigration isn’t really a factor in pushing me towards supporting Brexit, and I dislike as strongly as Andrew any rhetoric that sounds racist or dismissive of other nationalities.
5. That I or Andrew or any other British citizen could relocate to another EU country without worrying about applying for visas or other bureaucratic hassle is indeed a boon, both personally and when it comes to church planting. But I’m not convinced that leaving the EU would make a great deal of practical difference to this. It is unlikely that huge restrictions on movement would be put in place in a post-Brexit world, and besides, we seem to do ok at getting church planters into non-EU countries at the moment.
6. Religious freedom is enhanced in societies with strong democratic institutions. Which is of course an argument for Brexit.
7. Ah, the Richard Dawkins argument. I’m generally a fan of parliamentary government and in normal circumstances agree our elected representatives should make decisions for us. But these are not normal circumstances, and the debate has indicated that our elected representatives understand little more about the issues involved than anyone else. (And any reasonably intelligent voter could read The Spectator and The Economist and draw sound opinions one way or the other.) The majority of our elected representatives voted for same-sex marriage, and for going to war in Iraq. That must count for something.
8. I’m disappointed that Andrew should stoop to an ad hominem argument here. Which side has been more inflammatory and divisive is very much a case of whether you prefer pots or kettles.
9. Good grief.
10. The thing about cheap shots? They’re cheap.

There are a lot of issues at play here, but this is a response to Andrew’s list, so doesn’t cover everything I think is important. Tellingly, though, the main issue as I see it is the question of democratic accountability, with which Andrew doesn’t engage at all. But whatever the result of the vote, I’m so glad my security is in Jesus, and his enduring kingdom! And I’m very much looking forward to going on holiday in France next month, while Andrew is staying in my house – on that occasion I will be Leaving, and Andrew will Remain. That seems appropriate.

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