Neighbourly trust and acceptance now needed after Brexit: Bishop of St Albans

Bishop Of St Albans Rt Rev Dr Alan Smith

Bishop Of St Albans Rt Rev Dr Alan Smith - Credit: Archant

A high-profile cleric has urged people to “move forward” in the wake of the Brexit vote.

Commenting on the EU referendum the Bishop of St Albans, the Rt Rev Alan Smith, said that the outcome had “highlighted the deep divisions that exist in our country.

“We must now move forward together. However, healing the divisions will require an acknowledgement that the vote in part reflects the increasingly polarised circumstances between the poorest and the richest people in our nation.”

The Bishop advised people to “show grace” whether they sided with those victorious or the defeated, adding, “we must seek to rebuild neighbourly trust and acceptance in our streets, in our workplaces and clubs and schools.

“We will start with prayer in our churches and continue with our longstanding service to all the people of our communities. Most of all, it is vital for us to offer friendship and reassurance to those who might fear that this result will be exploited by factions peddling hatred and division.”

In the run-up to the referendum the Church of England Bishop voiced his support for the EU, and its role in preventing conflict.

While acknowledging that the EU was in need of reform, he told his diocese several months ago that the tone of the debate on Britain’s future in the bloc was “narrow-minded and mean-spirited”.

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He said: “We need to recall that the European ideal began after centuries of bloodshed, culminating in two terrible world wars that killed around 80 million people.”

However Rt Rev Smith attracted criticism for voicing his opinion, with some politicians saying it was not for the Church of England to become involved in such issues.