Bishop urges voters to reject Brexit campaign

Bishop of Lancaster Rt Rev Geoff Pearson

Bishop of Lancaster Rt Rev Geoff Pearson

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A Church of England bishop has warned against leaving the EU in next week’s referendum, saying it could turn out to be a backward step for Britain.

Rt Rev Geoff Pearson, the Bishop of Lancaster, says he will be voting to stay in Europe even though he admits the “Brussels machine” is far from perfect.

“Yes, there are faults. But in my view we can only change them by being at the table and not running away,” he said. “Are you going to change things more if you are on the outside than on the inside?”

Bishop Geoff joined the Brexit debate a week for Britain goes to the polls for what is seen as the nation’s most crucial ballot in decades.

And he urged voters to look to the young people of the UK who, he claimed, seemed to have a better perspective on being part of Europe than those who were older.

“I am minded to vote on the basis of solidarity with the many young people who seem to support our staying in,” he said. “I sense that, unlike many older people, they have humility about our role in the world .

“They are not Little Englanders who imagine we should have a huge defence budget and be able to sit at the table with the superpowers.

“They are prepared to learn from the good things they can experience outside our own nation.”

Bishop Geoff admitted that the principle of influence through involvement was one reason to vote remain.

But he also pointed to the two world wars that his parents and grandparents lived through was another.

“With some exceptions most of Europe has been at peace for over 70 years,” he said.

“I put that down to the fact that we have talked with and met regularly with our European counterparts.

“If you look back in church history you discover that some of the doctrinal disputes between east and west occurred simply because we didn not meet.

“I believe as a Christian in trying to knock down barriers not erect them.

“In my personal opinion Brexit seems to me both an inward and a backward step.”

l See Monday’s Evening Post for an in-depth look at the referendum issues.