A Christian Guide to Brexit 3 - Peace


He shall judge between the nations,

and shall arbitrate for many peoples;

they shall beat their swords into ploughshares,

and their spears into pruning-hooks;

nation shall not lift up sword against nation,

neither shall they learn war any more. Isaiah 2:4

On International Day for Peace, it is important to remember that the European Project was borne out of a century of devastating conflict. From the Crimean War in the 1850s, through the Franco-Prussian War and two World Wars, the empires of Europe had rampaged across the continent, crushing the smaller nations that got in their way. Belgium became the battleground of Europe, its neutrality consistently violated by those sworn to protect it. It is worth marking again just how far we have come in the century since the end of the First World War, when peace between the great nations of Europe was no more than a pipe-dream.

Is Brexit therefore a sign of success for the European Union as a peace project? In the decades since the signing of the Treaty of Paris between France, Germany, Italy and the Benelux countries in 1951, creating the European Coal and Steel Community, countries emerging from dictatorship - Greece, Spain and Portugal - or Soviet communism, have been embraced by the Union, in part, to secure the path to peace and democracy. And slowly enemies became partners, even friends.

The fact that one of the major players in the Union can choose to leave at this stage in its history may, in fact, point to a deep stability within Western Europe that can now be taken for granted. Or, more likely, it is part the spasm of nationalism that is currently convulsing the democracies of the Wester