Archbishop of York on EU Referendum: I haven't heard a cogent argument for Brexit

The Archbishop of York will support staying in the European Union in the most significant intervention on the referendum debate by a Church of England figure.

Archbishop of York John Sentamu is outspoken in a number of areas and has spoken of his socialist heritage.Reuters

His stance, revealed by the Times, is at odds with the Archbishop of Canterbury who has not taken a position, and the former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey who has announced his support of Brexit.

Sentamu is near the end of a six-month sabbatical where he has completed a 2,000 mile walking pilgrimage around his diocese. The pilgrimage will end this Sunday and the outspoken archbishop has said one of his first tasks will be to intervene on the ethical issues raised by the referendum. "I won't sit on the fence," he told the Times.

He added that he was unlikely to waver from his position in 1975 when he voted to remain in the single market. "I haven't yet heard a cogent argument for why we should be out," he said.

The Church of England has remained neutral on the issue and Justin Welby has not taken a side: "I don't think there is one correct Christian view, one way or the other," he said.

However other factions in the church have made public announcements. The Church in Wales and the Church of Scotland have both openly backed Remain with the moderator of the general assembly in Scotland saying continued EU membership represented "real progress and hope".

The Catholic Church in England and Wales has also publicly remained neutral but a number of prominent figures have said they supported remaining, including the most senior leader, Cardinal Vincent Nichols. He said Brexit would cause "complex problems" and said the Catholic stance towards the EU was "largely supportive".

Until Sentamu indicated which way he leant, the most significant Anglican figure to take a stance had been Lord Carey of Clifton, the former Archbishop of Canterbury. He wrote in the Mail: "For the British in particular, it is the loss of sovereignty and the inability of Britain or indeed any member state to reform and restore the democratic freedom of the nation state which have made the impositions of the EU such a running sore for many people.

"It is likely that a significant number of British people will always resent the loss of sovereignty and will be dragged eternally against their will into any further pooling of power in Brussels."

He added: "We now have no choice but to take back control of our border."

Athough no public stance has been taken by the Church of England, a number of current bishops have expressed their personal opinion. The bishops of St Albans, Burnley, West Yorkshire and the Dales and Worcester and the Bishop in Europe have warned against leaving the EU.

There is also a Christians for Britain and a Christians for Europe group, who argue for Brexit and Remain respectively.