Bishop of Oxford warns parliamentarians against 4 Brexit 'temptations'

The Bishop of Oxford has challenged parliamentarians to put aside the 'four temptations' of self-interest, the pursuit of short term power, nostalgia and idealism as they approach tomorrow's crucial Brexit vote.

In an open letter, Rt Rev Steven Croft – who voted Remain in the referendum ­– said: 'I believe we now need to honour the outcome of the referendum and reunite the country around a fresh vision of our relationship to the European Union.'

Rt Rev Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford.

Reflecting on TS Eliot's play Murder in the Cathedral about the death of Thomas Becket and the four tempters who visited him before his murder, he said: 'The Brexit debate has been marred from the beginning, it seems, by the narrow calculation of those hoping to gain or retain high office. Nothing has undermined trust in our politics more than the unsavoury smell of this ambition which is apparent to all.'

Second, he said, was the temptation to be 'swayed by narrow party interest and the pursuit (or retention) of power in the short term'.

He warned thirdly of 'nostalgia, a romantic attachment to the past: to imagine that we can reverse one referendum by another; or go back to a time before the Brexit debates when all was well; or go back still further to a different age of independence and imagined glory. We cannot. We must deal with the world as it is, not as we would like it to be and steer our course accordingly.'

The fourth temptation, he said, was to 'idealism: in a world of difficult choices and necessary compromise to hold onto an ideal which is no longer tenable (whether of a particular kind of leaving or remaining).'

Croft said that in the face of huge issues facing the world and the country, 'The nation is looking to its political leaders for a strong and compelling vision of the future which enables us to see beyond these debates in a way which brings unity and common purpose.'

He urged parliamentarians to look to the example of Christ, who came 'not to be served but to serve' and said: 'I hope and pray that you will be able in the midst of these difficult debates to turn aside from these four temptations, to seek meaningful compromise and to act for the common good.'