Brexit in a fractured Europe: a relational vision and strategy for reconciliation
by Paul Mills and Michael Schluter, Jubilee Centre:
The outcome of the UK’s referendum on EU membership has highlighted deep divisions within the populace, including among Christians, and increased the likelihood of further ruptures between the UK and EU27 as well as within and between the EU27 countries themselves. This paper first sets out the mandate for Christians to prioritise time and resources for peace-building within and between nations. It then presents an alternative ‘relational’ framework for peace-building within the UK and between the UK and the EU27. A Confederal model is then outlined as the basis for a new shared vision for reform within the EU. Within God’s Providence, we can pray that the Brexit vote will be seen in hindsight as a trigger for relationally-positive transformation, not just in Britain but across the Continent.
Following the referendum of 23 June 2016, the UK government took the unprecedented step on 29th March 2017 of invoking Article 50 of the European Treaty to leave the European Union (EU) within two years. The referendum revealed a closely divided electorate (52 per cent : 48 per cent) on a relatively high turnout (72 per cent). Parliament had set neither a margin nor turnout threshold for a ‘Leave’ vote to meet and so the narrow majority was sufficient to give a democratic mandate for leaving the EU.
The referendum and subsequent process of leaving the EU threatens to rupture three constellations of relationships: those between UK ‘Leavers’ and ‘Remainers’, between the UK and the other 27 members of the EU (EU27), and between (and within) the EU27 members over the future direction of EU reforms. Increasingly deep divisions between EU integrationists and critics are fuelling political uncertainty in many of the larger EU countries, threatening the Continent’s social order and impairing its international influence.
This paper first sets out the mandate and principles for relational peace-building and then applies them in the context of these three spheres of the UK exit debate. There is an urgent need for Christians to seek the peace and prosperity of the whole continent of Europe at an uncertain time in its history. This paper is intended to equip Christians for this task of subsuming self-interest whatever their views on European integration.