“The world feels a bit warmer now” is how one Brexiteer reacted as the UKIP flag was hoist over Ely Cathedral. Members of the Ely UKIP branch have expressed their jubilation at seeing the £-sign flag raised above Ely Cathedral for the first time – with the permission and blessing of the Dean – in celebration of the city’s first Brexit conference. The purple and gold flag was raised from the West Tower in a strong show of support for the city’s Brexiteers, anticipating the precise moment of Brexit at 11.00pm on 29th March 2019.
Nigel Farage said it felt “amazing” to witness the flag flying above the cathedral.
“I never imagined as a teenager that we would be at this point,” said Suzanne Evans. “The world feels a bit warmer now.”
“I think we have achieved something that I never thought we would achieve,” said UKIP MEP Margot Parker. “It’s absolutely wonderful to have that support from Ely Cathedral and have such a display of inclusivity for Ely,” she added.
Ely Cathedral normally only flies church and national flags but has made a special exception to show support for “inclusivity in the community”, Canon Stephen Bourne said.
“This is more than unusual. This is unique for us. It doesn’t matter where you come from and what your background is. Understand that the country has changed over the last 40 years, and so has the EEC.”
The Cathedral had received over 6,000 messages of support regarding its unprecedented decision to fly the UKIP flag, and only 29 complaints. Canon Bourne said: “We are proud to be doing this and recognising Eurosceptics and Brexiteers in this community, who are also a part of the community in Ely.”
Organisers of Ely’s Brexit conference have been fundraising since 24th June 2016.
The free conference will take place this weekend from 10am to 5pm at Jubilee Gardens, featuring a host of free patriotic entertainment. Although the event is primarily a Brexit celebration, its organisers hope everyone will join in the fun.
Why is a Church of England cathedral promoting what is described as “primarily a patriotic, Brexit, ‘Independence Day’ celebration”? They are not naive, and know what they are doing. The flag will no doubt be episcopal purple, but in reality it is a white flag, signalling their surrender of Christianity in favour of a completely different gospel, which is divisive in the church and endangering to the soul. There are better ways of rejoicing in the diversity of humanity – by proclaiming the joyful news of European Union. We join together in our common passion for a world where all people live in peace with the opportunity to thrive. We are stronger together!
Christian leaders within and outside the Church of England spoke out against this move as “blasphemy.”
“The flying of a UKIP flag above a cathedral is more than a contradiction, it constitutes a blasphemy,” said Pete Broadbent, Bishop of Willesden, who spoke of “right-wing headbangers” and “racists”. He argued that pro-Brexit Christians have twisted Scripture to put words into God’s mouth.
“I don’t just disagree with Ukip, I despise them,” said the Rev’d Dr Giles Fraser, himself a Brexiteer and co-chairman of Christians for Britain. “I despise them for their smug Little Englander mentality. I despise them for their total absence of fellow-feeling towards vulnerable people who look and sound different. I despise them for the way they scapegoat immigrants and whip up the resentment of the white working class. But I especially despise them for the way they dress all this up as the protection of something they call Christian England.”
And Lord Deben, a convert to Roman Catholicism who rejected the Church of England when they ordained women as priests, said that Brexit “distorts national identity” and is “a symptom of idolatry”. He warned that the more a society turns its back on the living God, the more people experience dis-ease and disintegration. This expresses itself partially in a confusion of national identity and equally by an absence of political reason.”
“By contrast the Judaeo-Christian tradition is a journey into a wider catholicity and borderless purity set within the parameters of God’s created order,” the Tory Peer explained.
The Very Rev’d Mark Bonney, Dean of Ely, responded: “I am very pleased that Chapter agreed to my request to fly the UKIP flag from the Cathedral tower as UKIP in Ely hold their first Brexit conference. I am pleased first of all to lend my backing to this community event because it celebrates the breadth and diversity of the community in which we all live. I am also very conscious that pro-EU Christians have not always been perceived as being as supportive and inclusive as some of us would wish, and so I am pleased to fly this flag as a sign of the kind of inclusion that I wish to promote at the Cathedral.”