Bishop of Leeds adds name to letter calling for unity after ‘decade of division’

(Photo: Unsplash/James Giddins)


The Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Rev Nick Baines, is among the religious leaders to have added their name to a joint letter calling for unity after years of fierce division over Brexit.

At the start of 2020, the letter brings together a broad mix of leavers and remainers in the call for a “decade of reconnection”, including Matthew Elliot, who headed up the 2016 Vote Leave campaign, and Will Straw, director of Britain Stronger in Europe, PoliticsHome reports. 

The letter urges people to “reach out” and “start rebuilding connections between neighbours and fellow citizens” after several tumultuous years of debate over Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union. 

“As we start this new year and new decade, our country feels more fragmented than any of us would like. Too often we hear that our divisions – by class or geography, by politics, age, race or by faith – have come to define us,” they continue.

“If we are not happy with the state of our society, it falls to us all to do something about it. New Year is the time for resolutions and on this first day of the 2020s, we urge others to join us in making a resolution for the new decade.

“Our resolution is to reconnect. To reach out to just one person we don’t know, or from whom we have drifted apart. To start rebuilding connections between neighbours and fellow citizens.”

Other signatories of the letter include Sir Hugh Robertson of the British Olympic Association, Carolyn Fairbairn of the Confederation of British Industry, Imam Qari Asim, Chair of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, former home secretary Jacqui Smith, chair of the Jo Cox Foundation, Matt Hyde of the Scouts’ Association, and Angela Salt of Girlguiding.

They go on to say that despite differences over Brexit, Britons still share a lot of common ground and need to work together to bridge social divides.

“While our politics and media have become more polarised we, as people, have not. There is much that we share with each other: sit any two people down together and they will find some common ground,” they said. 

“So the power of reconnection will depend on how many of us, as citizens, step up together. Every institution, too – not just government but education, business, sport, civic society and faith – should play its part in helping bridge social divides.

“Today is about a small first step that we can all take – to leave behind a decade of division and begin our decade of reconnection.”