European Union

May promises a real, clean, hard Brexit – “a truly Global Britain”

“The United Kingdom is leaving the European Union,” Theresa May assures. And today she leaves us in no doubt about the manner of that leaving:

We seek a new and equal partnership – between an independent, self-governing, Global Britain and our friends and allies in the EU. Not partial membership of the European Union, associate membership of the European Union, or anything that leaves us half-in, half-out. We do not seek to adopt a model already enjoyed by other countries. We do not seek to hold on to bits of membership as we leave…

This is hard Brexit, or clean Brexit, or pure Brexit, or real Brexit. It is shining, shimmering splendour Brexit; the Brexit of Brexits, the immaculate Brexit, the clear blue Brexit, the mother of all Brexits. When Theresa May said “Brexit means Brexit”, she meant it. There will be no halfhearted Brexit, no lukewarm Brexit, no fudged Brexit; no maybe-Brexit; no vacillating, wavering, backward-looking Brexit. Brexit means hard Brexit: it’s out and into the world:

I want us to be a truly Global Britain – the best friend and neighbour to our European partners, but a country that reaches beyond the borders of Europe too. A country that gets out into the world to build relationships with old friends and new allies alike. I want Britain to be what we have the potential and ambition to be: a great, global trading nation that is respected around the world and strong, confident and united at home.

Free at last. Free at last. Thank God Almighty, we are free at last.

There are those who deride hard Brexit as “economic vandalism” which is “constitutionally illegitimate“. “..17 million English, the lager louts of Europe, voted for Brexit in an act of geopolitical vandalism,” spits Professor Nicholas Boyle of Cambridge University in the New European. And the Dean Emeritus of Durham, the Very Rev’d Michael Sadgrove, calls on Parliament to resist the “populist clamour” and for MPs to vote with their consciences (ie, to subvert the result of the referendum and set aside the democratically determined will of the people). Sorry, guys, you can be as grumpy as you like, but it’s happening. It’s really, really happening.

And all those who care about democracy, accountability and sovereignty should rejoice. All those who repudiate oligarchy, inefficiency and bureaucracy should rejoice. We can be better European neighbours outside the EU. We can be fairer in trade with the poorest nations of the world outside the EU. We can be more compassionate and hospitable toward refugees, migrants and the marginalised outside the EU. We can be less myopically Eurocentric in our outlook and less discriminatory in our immigration policy. Hard Brexit is not a racist or xenophobic act: being open to the Commonwealth and the whole world is a profoundly Christian vision, for the Church is called to the ends of the earth, not just to the borders of the European Union.

With a global vision comes greater freedom – a freedom with profound missiological opportunities. A truly global Britain can be a light to the world; a beacon of justice, righteousness, peace, reconciliation and prosperity. The United Kingdom is leaving the European Union: we are not leaving Europe. We are not repudiating creation or rejecting the commonwealth of love and freedom. We will go on renovating and transforming the world, as is our national vocation, for we are a Christian country; our story has missionary origins. You may see nothing but geopolitical vandalism and hear nothing but the crassness of popular clamour, but we see a motivation for the truth of universalism, and the conviction that national sovereignty offers the best culture for spiritual catholicity and global communion. Thank God for Theresa May.