Church of Scotland first to openly support UK staying in European Union

(Image: EU)EU flag.

Britain's governing Conservative Party is divided on a referendum announced at the weekend by Prime Minister David Cameron on whether the United Kingdom will stay in or leave the European Union in what is known as Brexit.

Six of Cameron's Cabinet members said they would join the leave EU campaign later joined by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson who came out in favor of a "leave" vote.

But an ensuing newspaper column written by him was widely interpreted as pledging further renegotiation after such a vote and offering a cloudy argument.

The main churches, including the Church of England, are expected to support straying in the EU.

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The move by Johnson, seen as a successor to Cameron to lead the Conservative Party, was viewed as a possible game changer in the referendum.

He was, however accused of lacking clarity in his stance and using it to lobby to unseat Cameron.

Cameron ridiculed Johnson in the House of Commons, the lower chamber of the British Parliament on Feb. 22.

"I have known a number of couples who have begun divorce proceedings," Cameron said in remarks.

They were seen to be aimed at Johnson, who has reportedly experienced trouble in his marriage.

"But I do not know any who have begun divorce proceedings in order to renew their marriage vows."

The main opposition parties in the British Parliament including the Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party and the Greens support staying in the EU, But Cameron faces a tough battle from within his own party.

The (Presbyterian) Church of Scotland said that Britain's continued membership of the European Union symbolizes "real progress and hope" for the future.

The Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, Rev. Angus Morrison, said the United Kingdom would be better off remaining a member State in the face of "enormous international challenges."

He said is has never been more important to maintain a broad vision and work across boundaries to tackle the most serious and pressing issues of the day.

"The Church recognizes that the decision taken will impact our country and communities for generations to come and we call for a positive debate on the European Union that takes account of its role in promoting peace, security and international cooperation.

"While each individual will reflect and come to their own decision with integrity, the Church of Scotland takes the position that in this time of enormous international challenge, it is better for us as a country to remain within the EU."

As for the Church of England, The Daily Telegraph reported Feb. 13, it is preparing to campaign for greater European Union integration, in a move that will anger senior Conservatives ahead of the general election.

"In a deeply political intervention, the church has written a letter to the main Westminster parties in which it appears to criticize Conservative policies on the EU."

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