Monthly Archives: June 2016

The Referendum


We drive down to Purley for Charlotte’s First Communion. It was an ordinary 12 noon Mass and the large church is packed.

Galatians 5: “You are all of you sons of God through faith in Jesus Christ.”

MONDAY – St Alban

Our first British martyr and we know nothing about him. He could have lived and died anytime between 209 and 314. All we know is that he sheltered a Christian. He didn’t have to, but he did. He took that decision.

“Do not judge and you will not be judged.” (Matthew 7:15)

I watch the Euro football outside on a big screen. A good atmosphere. Everyone calm. England is through.

TUESDAY – St Aloysius Gonzaga and St John Rigby

St John Rigby, twice given a chance to recant, twice refused. What extraordinary faith.

“The clean of hands and pure of heart shall climb the mountain of the Lord and stand in His holy place.”

WEDNESDAY – Ss John Fish and Thomas More

I go to the Lincolnshire Show for a Vote Leave photograph. I do my usual tour of the stands.

St John Fisher’s last words: “I condemn no other man’s conscience. Their conscience may save them, and mine must save me.”

THURSDAY – St Ethelreda, St Thomas Garnet

We go to the second day of the Lincolnshire Show. It is referendum day and after voting – it’s a high turnout – we drive back to London, arriving just in time to see all the commentators predicting a Remain win.

The entrance antiphon: “The Lord is the strength of his people, a saving refuge for the one he has appointed. Save your people, Lord, and bless your heritage and govern them for ever.”

FRIDAY – Nativity of John the Baptist

We are up all night. I occasionally try to sleep but it is too exciting, although I miss the moment when Brexit wins.

At 8:30 astonishingly the Prime Minister resigns. I spend the rest of the day in a different world, at the Order of Malta’s St John’s Day Mass, all togged up in our robes, and going to Madeleine Gamble’s 100th birthday tea at the French Residence. The Ambassador pops in for a minute, looking harassed, saying only just she has not slept.

The Collect: “O God, who roused up Saint John the Baptist to make ready a nation fit for Christ the Lord, give your people, we pray, the grace of spiritual joys.”


I go to the Summer Gathering of the Catholic Union at St Mary’s University Twickenham. Afterwards we are shown around Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill. A strange day, the morning after the night before. Momentous changes have taken place. Already people are positioning themselves although no one me and I ring no one.

Even the Mass is quiet. I can barely hear the priest.

Gospel Acclamation: “Alleluia, alleluia. He took our sickness away…”

St Anthony of Padua


I go to Mass in Westminster Cathedral. The Cardinal is there.

The second reading is from Galatians is not easy.

“We acknowledge that what makes a man righteous is not obedience to the law but faith in Jesus Christ.”

Is faith everything? The homily is on the theme of the Gospel: “They were unable to pay so he pardoned them both. Which of them will love him more?” (Luke 7)

MONDAY – St Anthony of Padua

Children from the French lycée come to the House of Commons with parents and teachers. There are sixty people in the room. When I ask them how they would vote in the referendum, nine out of ten are in favour of remain. In the afternoon I chared delegated legislation.

St Anthony is the patron saint of the lost and found… where we would all like to be in politics. Perhaps the story of Jezebel in today’s Gospel is followed by all too many – not to the murderous extent but the use of others.

“In the letters she wrote Proclaim a fast and put Naboth in the forefront of his people. Confront him with a couple of scoundrels who will accuse him.” (1 Kings 21)

In the afternoon I again ask the Home Secretary if cars will be searched at Calais. Again I get a far from full answer.


I go to the National Prayer Breakfast in Westminster Hall. A bit evangelical for me and six of us have to feed ourselves up in the tea room after the scanty offerings. I am happier with going to my daily mass.

“Elijah answered, I have found you out. For your double dealing and since you have done what is displeasing to the Lord, I will now bring disaster on you.” (1 Kings)

Sadly we no longer have Elijahs to deal with double dealers.


There is a fuss about Osborne’s threatened emergency budget which will never happen of course. I intervene on John McDonnell and say many of us feel the real threat to the economy is not vote leave or remain but the tax and spend policies he has spent his whole life advocating.

Today in Matthew 6:1-6 Jesus gives advice that politicians including myself need:

“Be careful not to parade your good deeds before men to attract their notice. By doing so, you will lose all reward from your Father in Heaven.”

Stonyhurst College make their annual visit to the House of Commons. They give Bill Cash the nameplate from his desk from 1955.


I am worried about whether we will fill the hall for our Vote Leave rally the next day so I get 1,500 leaflets printed and we have a nice time distributing them in Gainsborough. Everyone I meet is voting out. I don’t know but at the same time a Labour MP is shot and killed.

The entrance antiphon today: “O Lord, hear my voice, for I have called to you to be my help. Do not abandon or forsake me, O God my saviour.”


Our event is cancelled as are all others today. I visit Ferndene Care Home in Gainsborough. A delight to meet old people who remember me from years back, including bringing baby Tamara to the count – in a cardboard box as we could find nothing else at the time. And a lady of 104 who is bright as a button.

The Collect: “O God, strength of those who hope in You…”


We try to re-arrange the rally but it is cancelled again, this time by the church. I have done my best.

Psalm 88: “I will keep my love for him always, with my chosen one I have made a covenant.”

St Norbert


I left Downside early after Lauds and drove to Gosport for a day’s sail. Unfortunately the engine broke down three times – once while we drifted in front of a Britanny ferry. Otherwise glorious weather.

Today’s reading from Luke:

“When the Lord saw her, he felt sorry for her. Do not cry, he said. Then he went up and put his hand on the bier and the bearers stood still and he said, ‘Young man, I tell you to get up!’ And the dead man sat up and began to talk.

MONDAY – St Norbert

I ask the Home Secretary again whether peoples cars are searched at Calais and whether they are checked for criminal records. I get no answer.

The readings of the Mass are the Beatitudes. If only we attempted to live them.

“How happy are the poor in spirit: theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Happy the gentle, they shall have the earth for their heritage. Happy those who mourn, they shall be comforted. Happy those who hunger and thirst for what is right, they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:1-12)


A five-hour meeting in the morning.

Psalm 4 is always reassuring: “When I call, answer me, O God of Justice; from anguish you have released me, have mercy and hear me.”


We have a House of Commons sailing match in the Thames on a windless day. We just drift with the tide. Maybe politics is like that for much of the time.

A strange reading from 1 Kings 18:

“How long, said Elijah, do you mean to hobble first on one leg then on the other?”

This is in the context of the worship of the Lord of Baal, but how often do we hobble on one leg then the other?

THURSDAY – St Columba

We drive up to Lincolnshire.

“So then if you are bringing your offering to the altar and then remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there before the altar, go and be reconciled with your brother first, and then come back and present your offering.” (Matthew 5:20-26)

I sometimes think of this passage as I go up to take communion. Difficult to manage.


We are quietly in Lincolnshire. I read a psalm in our village church.

“It is your face, O Lord, that I seek. O Lord, hear my voice when I call, have mercy and answer me.”

SATURDAY – St Barnabas

We drive down to London for a do for an African charity and hear moving stories of their work.

How little we now know of St Barnabas except that he was an early convert in Jerusalem and accompanied Paul on his first missionary journey. But he lives on in some kind of residual memory. When he was martyred, perhaps at Salamis, no one much would have cared, a small time religious zealot done to death in a small town. Little interest, end of story.

I do a debate with Adam Duguid on leave or remain in Market Rasen Methodist Church Hall. At the beginning of the debate we have 6 for Remain, 36 for Leave, and 6 undecided. At the end of the debate the result is exactly the same. But a pleasant debate – everyone good-humoured as always in Lincolnshire.