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Iain Duncan Smith slams Archbishop of Canterbury's 'deeply inappropriate' plans to chair citizen's assembly aimed at averting No Deal Brexit

Iain Duncan Smith slams Archbishop of Canterbury's 'deeply inappropriate' plans to chair citizen's assembly aimed at averting No Deal Brexit
Justin Welby voted to remain in EU in 2016 referendum on UK's membership
He is talking with MPs about 100-strong assembly made up of differing views
Senior MPs have backed in initiative in hope of avoiding a No Deal Brexit

August 26, 2019

Tory MP Iain Duncan Smith has taken aim at 'deeply inappropriate' plans for the Archbishop of Canterbury to play a role in resolving Britain's tortured Brexit process.

Plans are reportedly being hatched for Remain-supporting Justin Welby to chair a citizens' assembly in which 100 people representing all sides would make recommendations on Brexit.

The assembly would be convened next month, according to The Times. Last night Lambeth Palace did not deny the claims.

'I generally don't criticise the Archbishop but he shouldn't allow himself to be tempted into what is essentially a very political issue right now,' said Mr Duncan Smith.

'This assembly is designed to destabilise Boris Johnson's position'.

Welby is said to be liaising with a cross-party group of senior MPs over a series of public meetings.

Senior MPs on both sides of the debate have backed the initiative in the hope that such talks would lead to support for a plan that avoids a No Deal Brexit.

Veteran MP Frank Field, chairman of the work and pensions select committee who campaigned for Brexit, said: 'I support any means by which we might be able to come towards a negotiated Brexit, and therefore I'm really pleased with what the assemblies are trying to do.'

Archbishop Welby has said a No Deal Brexit would be 'not only a political and practical failure, but a moral one'.

The assembly, it is claimed, would be a representative group of people, balanced in terms of gender, background and political allegiance. They would be selected to reflect the outcome of the referendum and range of views on what form Brexit should take.

It is not clear how the selection process would work. Those involved would take part in discussions chaired by the archbishop and hosted by Coventry Cathedral.

The assembly would be asked to put proposals to Parliament to provide direction over Brexit and a national reconciliation. It is thought it would be based on the model used in Ireland in 2016 on the abortion issue when 100 diverse citizens discussed it.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: 'I got a very nice letter from the Archbishop. As far as I understand, he wants to bring the country together and I certainly support him in that.'

Mark Francois, vice-chairman of the European Research Group of Eurosceptic Tory MPs, said he believes Britons are 'tired of being lectured by politicians about why we should overturn their democratic decision', and that they will dislike 'having it rubbed in by the Archbishop of Canterbury'.

The Bishop of Burnley, the Right Rev Philip North called it an 'attempt to bring reconciliation at a time of national emergency'.


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