Lord Adonis: Why I back Hammond's 'soft Brexit' and oppose conservative Christian 'bigotry'

Wikimedia CommonsLord (Andrew) Adonis.

Andrew Adonis, the Christian former Labour Cabinet minister, has called on his party to give its 'full support' to the Chancellor Philip Hammond's vision of a 'soft Brexit' instead of the 'ideologically crazed' alternative.

Speaking to Christian Today, Lord Adonis also described himself as a 'progressive Christian' as opposed to the 'bigotry' of some conservative strands of the faith, adding that he 'could never be a Catholic' because of the Vatican's 'deeply regressive' positions on a range of issues.

Lord Adonis, who served as minister for education under Tony Blair and Secretary of State for Transport under Gordon Brown, was speaking on the day of a Queen's Speech heavily dominated by Brexit.

'The overwhelming issue of importance is Brexit, and there is clearly a battle going on between hard and soft Brexit and it is entirely unclear at the moment where this might end up,' Adonis said. 'But it seems to me vital that Britain doesn't leave the customs union or the single market and I strongly support Philip Hammond in what he now calls a 'jobs first' Brexit – he seems to be entirely sensible on ensuring that British trade, investment and jobs aren't sacrificed in an ideologically crazed bid to leave everything with the word Europe in the title. He deserves Labour's full support.'

On his Christian faith, Lord Adonis said: 'I'm what a like to term a progressive Christian – I see no incompatability at all with a strong Christian faith and being entirely liberal on social issues.'

The Labour peer, who is a close ally of Blair, who became a Catholic, added: 'I have always seen Christian values about empowering the individual in society and not containing it, and I see no connection between Christianity and bigotry – which is why I could never be a Catholic because I could never subscribe to the Vatican's deeply regressive teaching on condoms, abortion and celibacy. They are at least one and in some cases ten centuries behind the reality of every day life.'

Asked whether the Liberal Democrat leader, Tim Farron was wrong to resign last week, implying that it is impossible to be a Christian and the leader of a progressive party, Adonis said: 'Completely [wrong] – it is perfectly possible to be both.' He added: 'But I like Tim a lot and I wouldn't want to say anything critical of him personally.'