The Church of Scotland has issued a warning about the potential impact of a no deal Brexit, echoing concerns of charities that the most vulnerable are at risk from leaving the EU without a deal.
A no-deal Brexit on April 12 is still being touted as a possibility, even though MPs voted again to reject that default position in a tight House of Commons vote this week.
Theresa May has written to the EU Commission this morning in a bid to extend the Article 50 process, which legally mandated the UK’s departure date as March 29, until the end of June.
A statement from Rev Dr Richard Frazer, convener of the Kirk’s Church and Society Council, said: “As the Prime Minister seeks a further extension to Article 50 we must recognise that it is not just within the UK Parliament where there is a lack of agreement, as a society, we are divided.”
“Reconciling this divide requires a different approach; it will require time, humility and a willingness to listen and build consensus not just in Westminster but across our communities.
“If we wish to avoid significant damage to our shared wellbeing it also requires our politicians to work actively towards agreement across the four nations of the UK and to use whatever mechanisms are necessary to create the time for this to happen.”
Around a third of Scots identify as being members of the Church of Scotland, according to the 2011 Census.
Rev Frazer has previously used his position to urge action on poverty, challenging Chancellor Philip Hammond ahead of the 2017 Autumn Statement to halt the roll-out of Universal Credit.
It is not the first religious response to the challenge of Brexit, with the Roman Catholic Church previously urging EU citizens in Scotland, over half of whom identify as Catholic, to prepare for the UK’s departure.
Earlier this year, Rev Dr Martin Johnstone, Secretary to the Church and Society Council of the Church of Scotland, wrote a ‘Brexit prayer for peace and unity.’
Rev Frazer urged politicians to secure a deal, adding: “Crucially, we must avoid leaving the EU without a deal; to do so not only represents a loss of good faith with our closest neighbours on which we depend for our common good, but also would place many of our communities and institutions in harm’s way. Charities are warning us that food supplies to the most vulnerable are most at risk.
“Supplies of essential medicines, among other things, are also likely to be disrupted. To leave without a deal would be reckless not only in the short-term but would damage our ways of relating to one another for generations to come.
“This is not in anyone’s interests, particularly in a world where many of the problems we face must be addressed together.”