“Poor George,” they’ll sigh in the House of Bishops. “He’s finally…” They won’t bother to finish the sentence; just make little circular motions with their forefingers pointing to the temple. Carey, Carey, quite contrary has finally gone doolally. Islam, immigration, Christian refugees, same-sex marriage, assisted dying… Oh, he changed his mind on that, didn’t he? Poor soul. He’s really lost it now. How could a bishop – a former Archbishop of Canterbury no less – possibly support leaving the European Union; God’s empire on earth for peace, prosperity, reconciliation and the mutual flourishing of European fellowship?
Lord Carey makes his “revelatory call” in the Mail on Sunday (further evidence of his derangement): ‘Why I’m voting for Brexodus..” And his argument is succinct: far from forging unity, the EU has brought about division. “To follow the analogy of marriage and divorce there comes a time when such harm is taking place within the marriage that there is no choice but to end it,” he writes, with an Anglican eye on the Petrine privilege. “Many countries contribute to brotherly fellowship and international peacemaking without surrendering their democratic controls.” Well, quite. “For the British in particular, it is the loss of sovereignty and the inability of Britain or indeed any member state to reform and restore the democratic freedom of the nation state which have made the impositions of the EU such a running sore for many people.”
And he laments the rise of the Far Right (and the Far Left – yea!) all over the Continent in response to uncontrolled immigration: “We now have no choice but to take back control of our borders,” he writes, urging the sort of “narrow nationalism” which makes the liberal elite sneer. And he ends with a rhetorical flourish to faith, hope and freedom:
As we approach June 23, Project Fear should play no role in our individual decisions. The reality is that every X we put in a box is an act of hope, not fear.
That is the nature of democracy. The Christian insight is that hope is at the heart of our condition as human beings. We cannot possibly know the future, even with the help of sophisticated computer models, so we must take a step into an unknown future.
It is the refrain of freedom that I will be reflecting upon as I cast my vote in a few short weeks to come.
Lord Carey is a brave bishop: his reflection on the refrain of freedom will be derided by the Europhile enlightened ones, but the spiritual and moral dimension of public life is at the forefront of his mind. He is no evangelical simpleton: his evangelicalism causes him to weigh moral conflicts and dilemmas as the Holy Spirit moves and guides, and then speak out with clarity. You may not always agree with him; he may not always get it right. But his thoughts, feelings, dreams and emotions are attuned to the pursuit of holiness. He senses the coming apocalypse and discerns a better way for Britons to live in social relationship with their European neighbours.
His spiritual yearning may be expressed more in common prose than the lofty poetry which typified the style of his successor at Lambeth, Rowan (Lord) Williams, but his subject is the most elemental choice between good and evil; between walking with God and the Promethean ambition for men to become God. The Europhiles believe they are the doves of a prophetic peace – ‘O God of Earth and Altar’ – and along comes this cuckoo who thinks he’s a hawk, singing ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’ to the trade-minds who live for a pint and read nothing but the Daily Mail. They need educating and guiding in the path of righteousness, not indulging in their bigoted xenophobia and little-England feebleness.
The priesthood roll their eyes at the very mention of Lord Carey, rather like they do when Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali presumes to make a scandalous interjection. But these men of God spy the abyss and sound the alarm. We can heed the warning, repent and avert disaster, or we can turn our eyes and ears to the great profession of secular counsellors and spiritual advisers who claim superior insight and expert knowledge, but who are leading the nation to distended faithlessness and political oblivion.
The European Union is an anti-democratic, centralised, unreformable, oligarchic bureaucratic beast bent on total domination. It is prepared to lose souls to save face. The people of God yearn for a better way, another treaty, a different mission of national discovery and self-confidence. We can meet together, network, dialogue, support and befriend our European neighbours as we boldly bear witness as followers of Christ. Or we can be absorbed, monitored, re-educated, relativised, patronised and ignored as the Euro-Beast marches on to ever closer union and democratic damnation. That is the choice we face. Thank God that Lord Carey sounds a clear note against the injustice, humiliation, pain and bitter resentment of remaining in a Godless sodality of gnashing teeth.