Britain’s referendum decision of 23 June 2016 to leave the EU is the single most important decision the UK has taken in more than 40 years. It will have far reaching implications for the machinery of government and for Britain’s place in Europe and the wider world.
It represents the biggest administrative and legislative challenge that government has faced since 1945. It is likely to be a pretty all-consuming task for many Whitehall departments for years, if not decades, to come.
Our Common Futures project aims to provide a space for Christian reflection and debate on these complex issues and to encourage others to think through what a Brexit for the common good might look like.
Our Common Futures will focus on five questions.
- What would be the best relationship for Britain to have with the EU?
The government has made clear that “Brexit means means Brexit” but what should Brexit mean in practice? What would a bespoke arrangement look like or should the UK make a “clean break”, leaving the EU and the customs union? How beholden should government be to the rhetoric and promises made by the Leave campaign during the referendum campaign?
- How do we build a post-Brexit Britain for everyone?
How might the deep divisions in Britain exposed by the vote to leave the EU be bridged? How does Britain make Brexit a good news story for the poor, the unemployed and those whose wages and living standards have been falling? What is the best model for the UK economy to encourage human flourishing post-Brexit and how should that understanding shape the government’s negotiating strategy to leave the EU?
- What future is there for the EU?
Does the EU have a future post-Brexit or does Brexit signal the slow unravelling of the post-1945 project to create a political union in Europe? Is it possible for the 27 member states to chart a new course for the EU without stoking the flames of extreme protest movements and parties across the EU. Although soon to be separate from the EU, what role should Britain play in this future process: critical friend or disinterested bystander?
- How should Britain be governed?
Is it possible for Britain to exit the EU without also inviting Scottish Independence and Irish Unification? Can government negotiate a UK wide approach to Brexit that meets the needs of all parts of the Union? How should the divide between the political class and large numbers of disaffected voters be bridged? How do we restore trust in our political system? Should Britain’s withdrawal from the EU be the catalyst for a wider exercise in constitutional reform and democratic renewal?
- What global role should Britain aspire to?
What does it mean to be in Europe but not of the EU? Can Britain carve out a role that adds value to it and the world? What capacities and networks will that role require? Is a values based foreign policy now an unaffordable? Does Britain’s withdraw from the European project suggest a wavering commitment to liberal internationalism?
Readers can share their own ideas on one or more of these issues by emailing email@example.com. Each contribution should run to between 500 and 600 words and should fit with Reimagining Europe’s editorial guidelines.
We look forward to reading your contributions and engaging with you in Our Common Futures.