Archbishop of Canterbury on collision course with US evangelicals

The Archbishop of Canterbury is on a collision course with his evangelical counterparts in America this morning after saying he could not comprehend how Christians could vote for Donald Trump.

Justin Welby said he 'really genuinely' can't understand how so many believers backed the US President, who was swept to office partly thanks to support from 81 per cent of white evangelicals.

The Archbishop of Canterbury appeared on the Peston show, one of a number of Sunday morning political shows.ITV / Peston

'There's two things going through my mind: do I say what I think, or do I say what I should say? And I'm going to say what I think,' he said, appearing to deliberate in an interview for ITV's Peston programme on Sunday morning. 'No, I don't understand it. I really genuinely do not understand where that is coming from.'

Welby went on to say he had met many people worse than the US President and clarified he would attend a royal banquet if Trump came to the UK on an official state visit.

'I spent years and years involved in conflict stuff around the world where I met people who had killed many, many people,' he told ITV.

He added part of his job is to meet with people he disagrees with 'and to testify with the love of Christ to them and to seek to draw them in a different way' although if he did meet Trump Welby admitted it would 'be unlikely I'd do more than shake hands with him'.

In a wide ranging interview with the ITV's Robert Peston Welby also attacked pro-Brexit media outlets for headlines which are 'stirring up hatred' and called for newspapers to show 'more discipline'.

It comes after The Daily Telegraph this month labelled a group of Tory MPs 'the Brexit mutineers' amid claims they would amend the government's Repeal Bill. The front page story led to a number of threatening tweets being sent to Anna Soubry, one of the 15 MPs pictured.

'I think there needs to be much more discipline in our use of language,' he said.

'The use of expressions about public enemies, the use of stuff like mutineers, all these headlines which seem conditioned to stir up hatred.

'There is a responsibility on anyone who is setting public opinion to say yes, disagree, we're a democracy, of course we disagree, robustly, sometimes very toughly.

'But we have to say we're part of the same country and we will not surmount the challenge of Brexit or not Brexit without unity.'

The high profile interview also touched on food banks with Welby saying more needed to be done to boost wages, saying most people using the Church's food banks were in work.

'It is obviously producing a lot of jobs at the moment, there is low unemployment, there is good news,' he said praising the low rates of unemployment under the Conservatives.

'But the thing we see in the Church of England and with all the other churches, together is at our foodbanks, the majority of people who come to the foodbanks are in work.

'And that is a sign that work is not lifting people out of poverty in a way we would hope in a society that is just.'

The interview also coincided with the Archbishop of York appearing on the BBC's Andrew Marr programme where he put on a dog collar nearly a decade after his cut his up in protest at Robert Mugabe's rule in Zimbabwe.