Beware of hubris and heed genuine advice urges Bishop Nick

Amidst extreme international actions, Bishop of Leeds, the Rt Revd Nick Baines used his first House of Lords speech of 2020 to call for caring voices to be heard.

Speaking on Tuesday as tensions increased in the Middle East, Bishop Nick said:

“I hope that the Government, with some humility and deeper cultural thinking, might just listen to those who wish to see global justice and peace worked out in this complex world by people who are not driven by claims to power, but by the imperatives of mutual human flourishing.”

He also cautioned against misplaced belief in the strength of simplistic geo-political alliances:

“The UK’s response to the assassination of General Soleimani in Baghdad last week, as we have just discussed, further exposes both the interconnectedness of foreign policies and the particular impact of trade dependency on the United States of Donald Trump — something that will not be lost on Nazanin Zaghari-Ratcliffe or her family.

“Daily reading of the Bible, which is in my job description, reinforces a sense of the transience of power in history. The Old Testament shows that quick and obvious defence alliances often led to terrible longer-term enslavements.

“Empires came and went, their hubris dribbling away into deserts of exiled misery, and powers and rulers never learned, even when they seduced their people into what turned out to be false securities.”

Referring to the political and trading technicalities of Brexit that lie ahead, he urged decision makers to recognise the fact that the UK is part of an intensely integrated world:

“On this hyperconnected, small planet, no policy on anything can ignore its implications for the wider picture.

“Foreign policy is not primarily about “us” directed at “them”, but rather “us” behaving as part of “them”.

“In other words, we need our Government to go beyond easy slogans such as “Get Brexit done”, or even “Global Britain”, and consider how actual policy is to be worked out with real people and how the implications and consequences of that policy are to be understood and responded to by those with whom we claim to be interconnected partners.”

You can read Bishop Nick’s speech in full at

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