The world was shocked when Britain voted to exit the European Union in June 2016. In a way, it was similar to the shock people experienced when Donald Trump won the presidency just a few months later.
Now, the nation has voted again on the subject Thursday, Dec. 11, paving the way for Brexit to finally be accomplished under Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Johnson’s Brexit bill, “The Withdrawal Agreement Bill,” will allow Britain to officially leave the EU on Jan. 31. The members of Parliament will vote on Johnson’s bill this Friday.
But what isn’t as widely reported is the spiritual implications of Britain’s exit from the EU.
Bible teacher R.T. Kendall says there’s an interesting connection between Trump and Johnson.
“As many Christians in America see Donald Trump as a modern Cyrus, so do some Brits see Boris Johnson in much the same way,” Kendall says. “I believe Brexit will help preserve Britain’s enviable culture, unique sovereignty and Christian heritage. These things said, I would urge that all of us pray for Boris; he needs special grace as never before.”
British evangelist Steven Halford tells me that the church in Britain is split on this issue. In his experience, churches that are Spirit-filled or charismatic tend to be pro-Brexit, whereas churches that were more liberal and interested in socialism wanted to remain.
“I’m a big believer in compassionate conservatism, compassionate capitalism as opposed to allowing the government to do these things,” Halford says. “Those in apostolic, charismatic, modern church movement—the churches that are growing—those are the ones that tend to be more conservative in their theology, more conservative in their politics.”
Christianity Today seems to agree that Christians are divided on this difficult topic. Interestingly, a slight majority of Christian evangelicals voted to remain. And yet, there are still evangelicals who “are staunchly pro-leave and feel God is at work in Brexit.”
Some even cite prophecy and prayer as reasons they support Brexit. End-times teacher Tony Pearce says the EU will be associated with the Antichrist and points to a sculpture outside and EU building in Strasbourg, France, as a representation of the woman riding the beast in Revelation 17.
Halford is among those evangelicals who firmly believe God is at work through Brexit. While he was campaigning for Brexit back in 2016, he publicly stated that God wanted Britain to leave the EU.
Halford received harsh criticism for saying this. He tells me he had a personal conversation about his belief with the Archbishop of Canterbury. The next day the Archbishop made a national speech in which he disputed every point Halford had made with him in their personal conversation.
But Halford says the 2016 Brexit vote was long expected. After all, the issues surrounding Britain’s involvement in the EU started back in the 1970s with the European Economic Community (EEC).
Halford says that within a few short years of joining the EEC (which was originally created for trade purposes), those in leadership formed a governing body and began making laws.
“They started passing laws and more and more power was given to the European Union, and eventually a president was elected, not by the people but by their own governing body,” he says. “So it’s an unelected board of people who are making laws for our country. And all of a sudden, the European countries no longer had sovereignty.”
These laws soon began affecting Britain’s ability to trade with other countries. Halford gives the example that people couldn’t eat the fish caught in their own area because of European law. Many of these laws didn’t make sense and even were not in Britain’s best interest.
Despite receiving literature from the government saying why Britain should stay with the EU, 52% of the people voted to leave. Yet, since that Brexit vote of 2016, two prime ministers have failed to figure out a way for Britain to exit. Finally, a vote was taken in the last few days, and the conservatives won by a landslide. Brexit was confirmed in a definitive repudiation of those in Britain who actually wanted to stay part of the EU.
But what does this new vote mean for Christians in Britain? Christian businessman Martin Clarke says believers must pray against division in Britain.
“Divide and rule is an obvious weapon of the enemy,” he says. “The divorce from Europe split the United Kingdom and the success of the Conservative and Unionist Party Election victory was seen in England and Wales but not in Scotland or Northern Ireland where further separation is now likely and the Union of United Kingdom ends.
“All this comes at a time when we have seen a spiritual awakening in Europe from the tip of Norway to the tip of Italy and God doesn’t need majority; He is majority and His plans are always secured by the few, not the many. In the natural, things look bleak, but in the spiritual I still see God’s hand and remain fully persuaded that His ways are not our ways. Great Britain surrendered itself gradually and nationalism has become the new selfie, leaving us alone in the photograph, isolated, lonely and divided from unity.”
As Britain moves forward with Brexit, let’s pray that God would keep His hand on that nation.
Listen to my full interview with Halford to learn more about the spiritual factors behind Britain’s Brexit vote.