by Guy Brandon, 26th May 2016
Yesterday evening the Jubilee Centre hosted a lively panel discussion at Eden Baptist church, Cambridge, on the coming referendum on the UK's membership of the EU.
The panel consisted of (from left to right in the photo) Johannes de Jong (Christian Political Foundation for Europe), Dr Adrian Hilton (theologian and blogger at Archbishop Cranmer), Jonathan Tame (Chair, Jubilee Centre), Baroness Julie Smith (Lib Dem peer and academic) and Ian Cooper (senior tutor, Christian Heritage). They answered questions from the chair and the audience about how Christians might approach this key vote. A big thank you goes both to the panel and to the audience, who made it a memorable evening.
It was a stimulating discussion, with the panel providing a diverse and well-balanced series of perspectives on a number of issues from the economy and trade justice to religious freedom and Christian principles of political organisation. We also held an informal poll, asking everyone to record their voting intention before and after the discussion.
In total, 147 people filled out their slips, of which 141 provided clear information for both before and after.
Total figures for before the discussion (% totals reflect rounding error):
Remain: 56 (40%), Leave: 36 (26%), Undecided: 49 (35%)
Figures for after the discussion:
Remain: 45 (32%), Leave 45 (32%), Undecided: 51 (36%)
So, whilst the proportion of undecided voters remained roughly the same, Leave received an 8% bump at the expense of the Remain vote.
Ignoring Undecided votes, the proportion shifted from Remain: 61%, Leave: 39% before the discussion, to a dead heat, Remain 50%, Leave 50% afterwards.
As the pollsters say, caveats apply. This is one survey with a small and unrepresentative sample. If we had to draw a conclusion from it, it might be that Remain is the preferred default position for Christians (at least, for the type of Christians who attend Jubilee Centre events on the EU referendum in Cambridge), but that they are more open to changing their minds than those who start on the other side. No one who stated their intention to vote Leave at the beginning switched to Remain by the end, and only three former Leavers ended up as Undecided.
Whatever the outcome on Thursday 23 June – four weeks today – we will all have to live together with the result. So I’ll leave you with Adrian’s hashtag answer to the question of how we will move forward, whatever we collectively decide: #DisagreeWell