Third Sector Leaders Demand More "Vision" in Referendum Debate

Britain urgently needs to hear a more positive vision for its future from both sides of the EU referendum campaign. Constant fearmongering will produce only paralysis in the community and block wise decision-making.

This was the consensus of opinion at a recent summit for leaders of British third sector and church networks.

The 2020Plus EU Referendum Summit on June 10 brought together leaders of some of the UK’s most resourceful church networks, linked with resourceful charities, for discussions about the future of Britain beyond the June 23 vote.

Leaders and senior representatives of national networks including the Assemblies of God, Kingdom Faith, the Hillsong Network and the International Network of Churches met at the Institute of Directors in Pall Mall, London. 

According to summit organiser and host, Mal Fletcher, the Chairman of the 2020Plus international think tank: “The overriding consensus among the leaders in this room is that our default position moving toward the vote should not be one of fear, but one based in a proactive vision for the future, combined with very strategic action.”

Guest contributor Major General Tim Cross, CBE, former commander of UK forces in the Balkans and Iraq, noted that the referendum debate has been largely negative. 

"Talk about house prices and so on focuses only on the immediate future," he said. "We need to be hearing and developing a vision for the next twenty years.”

The summit heard that whether in or out of the EU, Britain will still face such challenges as combining economic growth with care for the poor and mixing immigration with social cohesion. These are not only national issues, they are impacted by globalisation.

“Leaders at every level of society need to engage these and other future social challenges with positive, proactive strategies, whatever the outcome of this hugely important vote," added Mal Fletcher.

Discussions focused on issues including the economy, migration and integration, sovereignty and more. 

Colin Bloom, Director of Outreach for the Conservative Party and a guest contributor, said: “In this unique referendum, with its opportunities and challenges, local church leaders can play an important role in encouraging people to engage with the issues.”

“This summit represents a step toward clarifying some very important questions on both sides of the debate.”

Addressing the summit via a recorded interview, renowned business futurist Dr Patrick Dixon pointed out that, whatever the vote, the economic future of the European region, including the UK, lies outside of Europe, as 85 percent of the globe lives in developing countries.

Dr Joel Edwards, former member of the Human Rights Commission (UK), addressed the issues of poverty and integration. While economic experts are split on the impact of Leave and Remain, he said, churches need to remember that two million children in the UK are already affected by poverty. This will not change on June 23 and desperately needs to be addressed.

Major General Tim Cross spoke with passion about the refugee crisis in Europe and said that it represents a global problem, with which the UN needs to become more engaged. 

On June 20, 2020Plus will host a series of free EU Referendum webinars for Christian business leaders. These will look at the historical background to the referendum and clarify some of the major issues facing the Christian marketplace leader. For more details, please contact: 

© Copyright with Mal Fletcher

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