Former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey comes out in support of Brexit

Lord Carey, former Archbishop of Canterbury (

Christians on both sides of the Europe debate spoke out today after former Archbishop of Canterbury Lord Carey of Clifton backed the Brexit campaign.

Adrian Hilton, of Christians For Britain, said Europe had become a source of schism and social unrest.

He said Lord Carey had an absolute right to speak out.

"Former ministers, chancellors and governors of the Bank of England are all being wheeled out to give voters the benefit of their EU experience and insight, so why shouldn't a former Archbishop of Canterbury?

"Lord Carey's intervention elevates the national debate to include a few transcendent themes. He rightly distinguishes between the EU and Europe, and thereby preaches a different sermon from the dozen-or-so bishops who have declared their pro-EU convictions.

"Lord Carey's eye for the spiritual and eternal gives balance to the temporal rumours of war and endless obsession with GDP, because he understands that this referendum is about freedom, justice and democracy; not money or fear of the unknown.

"And his conclusion is lucid: that far from the EU fostering peace and harmony, it has become a source of schism and a primary cause of civil unrest. Voting to leave is a vote for hope, and that is his sincere Christian insight."

However, former Dean of Durham Michael Sadgrove, of Christians for Europe, accused Lord Carey of fanning the flames of fear.

"George Carey is fanning the flames of Project Fear. In the world of today, absolute sovereignty is a dangerous fantasy in an environment of high risks as John Major pointed out by referring to North Korea. By pooling our powers and acting together, we create the safer, more peaceful world he and I both long for. In particular, his analogy of the Exodus story from slavery to freedom is sheer hyperbole.

"To liken our membership of the EU, with all its faults, to terrible slavery and persecution is as inappropriate as Boris Johnson invoking Hitler. This inflated language doesn't promote a sensible debate about the referendum. Anyway, the Exodus story proves too much.

"It would imply 40 years wandering in the desert, and two centuries or more learning how to inhabit the promised land! If these are the consequences of Brexit we are far better off remaining. And I can't think our Jewish friends will welcome this use of their scriptures in such an extraordinary way."

Lord Carey intervened at a time when the churches are resisting advising voters on how to vote, although the Church of England did publish a prayer for the referendum.

Writing in the Mail, he said Brexit seems to be about division and disintegration so it was natural that religious leaders should oppose it. But he added: "What if the 'relationships' at stake in the EU were bringing about division rather than unity? Because that, reluctantly and sadly, is the view I have come to."

He said it was not strictly accurate to compare Brexit to divorce, and in any case the Church accepted the necessity of divorce in some circumstances.

"In the case of relationships within the EU, many of us feel that the current structures and arrangements are now causing the very division, conflict and unhappiness that they were created to cure."

He added: "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."

If the prospect of being in control of our own laws is not enough, Britain should prize the ability to control its borders if the vote is to leave on June 23, he argued.

"We are an island people, proud of our heritage and history. We have been generous; happy to share our riches with newcomers on the understanding that they own our history and share our values.

"Yet there is now huge pressure on our population, due to an unasked-for experiment in uncontrolled immigration that has seen millions added to the population of the UK in the past two decades. We now have no choice but to take back control of our borders."

To allow uncontrolled immigration is where danger lies, he said, warning that the population could grow by as much as 16 million in the next 25 years to more than 80 million.

"It is clear that neither local or national government can provide basic infrastructure, schooling and healthcare for our current growing population."

He also linked migration to terror.

"The disastrous effect of open internal borders due to the Schengen agreement means that the terror threat in mainland Europe is at an all-time high."