David Cameron rejects Nick Clegg's call for separation of church and state
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Thursday 24 April 2014
Nick Clegg has called for the separation of the church and state in England – before the idea was immediately rejected by David Cameron.
The Deputy Prime Minister, who is an atheist, said disestablishing the Church of England would be "better for Anglicans" but admitted such a change would not happen overnight. "In the long run, having the state and the church bound up with each other, as we do in this country, I think it would be better for the church and better for people of faith and better for Anglicans if the church and the state were, over time, to stand on their own two separate feet,” he said.
But Mr Clegg defended Mr Cameron’s decision to describe Britain as a “Christian country,” adding that "all faiths and none" were able to share values of "fair play and tolerance". The Prime Minister’s comments attracted criticism from 50 intellectuals, scientists, writers and humanists last week.
The Liberal Democrat leader’s intervention is into sensitive territory for politicians because the Queen is head of the Church of England, a title held by the monarch since Henry VIII’s split with the Catholic Church in 1534.
Mr Cameron said: “I think our arrangements work well in this country. We are a Christian country, we have an established church,” adding that disestablishment was “a long term Liberal idea but it is not a Conservative one.”
He argued that leaders of other faiths believed the church-state link made the country more tolerant.
- 2 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 4 Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
'Fire at every person you see': Israeli soldiers reveal they were ordered to shoot to kill in Gaza – even if the targets may have been civilians
Italian police 'reveal' what Jesus looked like as a young boy
Who should I vote for? The Independent quiz matches best political party for undecided voters ahead of the general election
First-time buyers in London 'need to earn at least £77,000'
General Election 2015: Photographic history of Bullingdon Club tracked down - including new picture of David Cameron in his finery
In defence of liberal democracy
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power, Labour warns
Schools forced to act as 'miniature welfare states' with teachers buying underwear and even haircuts for poor pupils
£20000 - £25000 per annum + commission: SThree: Real Staffing's Pharmaceutical...
£18000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Can you speak German,...
£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An exciting opportunity f...