Archbishop Of Canterbury Justin Welby Slams Pro-Brexit Headlines For 'Stirring Up Hatred'

Media needs to show 'discipline' around its use of language.
Justin Welby on ITV's Peston on Sunday
Justin Welby on ITV's Peston on Sunday

The Archbishop of Canterbury has accused Brexit-backing newspapers of “stirring up hatred” and called for the media to show “more discipline” around its use of language.

Justin Welby, who voted Remain last year, on Sunday criticised headlines that branded public figures “public enemies” and “mutineers”.

The Daily Telegraph this month labelled a group of Tory MPs “the Brexit mutineers” amid claims they would amend the government’s Repeal Bill. The front page story resulted in a series of threatening tweets being sent to one of the 15 MPs pictured.

In November last year the Daily Mail caused widespread outage after calling the High Court judges who ruled MPs should vote on triggering Article “enemies of the people”.

Welby told ITV’s Peston on Sunday: “I think there needs to be much more discipline in our use of language.”

He added: “The use of expressions about public enemies, the use of stuff like mutineers, all these headlines which seem conditioned to stir up hatred.

“There is a responsibility on anyone who is setting public opinion to say yes, disagree, we’re a democracy, of course we disagree, robustly, sometimes very toughly.

“But we have to say we’re part of the same country and we will not surmount the challenge of Brexit or not Brexit without unity.”

Separately, the Archbishop told Robert Peston he could not understand why so many Christians support US President Donald Trump.

At first Welby expressed a little uncertainty about expressing himself on the topic saying, “there’s two things going through my mind, do I say what I think or do I say what I should say”, before concluding, “I’m going to say what I think”.

“No I don’t understand,” Welby said. “I really genuinely do not understand where that is coming from.”

When asked about whether he would meet Trump during his state visit Welby said he would, but noted it would be “unlikely I would do more than shake hands with him”.

Welby said: I’ve spent years and years involved conflict stuff around the world where I’ve met people who have killed many people, part of the job is to meet people you disagree with it.... and to seek to draw them into a different way.”


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