DRINKING coffee with a kind friend I was amazed when she described Dominic Cummings as ‘evil’. What did she mean? She was annoyed that he was neither elected nor a civil servant. It seems that the language of the Brexit debate has changed. There is a paradigm shift in political conversations. Brexit discussions are moving away from arguments about trade deals or identity: the dispute is now about dominion. Who will hold the kingdom, the power and the glory?
In the daily articles about Brexit the answer is no longer economic because the discussion is now spiritual. At last my degree in theology is directly relevant! Religious language is storming into the debate. On Friday Philip Collins in the Times wrote about ‘praise’ and ‘vilification’, while this week’s Spectator reveals that Caroline Flint has been called ‘the devil’. In Unherd Polly Mckenzie writes about how she discovered the Tories weren’t ‘evil’.
Listen for the touchstone word ‘evil’. Good and evil is a classic theological dichotomy. The concept of evil becomes important if you need to reconcile the existence of suffering in God’s world. So, when my good friend says that Dom is ‘evil’ I understand her criticism on an entirely experiential level . . . she is suffering because of Dom’s dominion, and she won’t be the only Remainer praying ‘deliver us from evil’.
Of course, in a secular world Dom is simply part of a Downing Street team, doing the same job as Alastair Campbell did for Blair or Seumas Milne is doing for Magic Grandpa. As far as I know, Lucifer was not part of their political job description. These men earn their daily bread as a representation of their hallowed boss whose will is done. I don’t know them; I am sure they all make mistakes, but they are not evil.
So how can a Brexiteer engage in an argument that is moving to a debate about good and evil? Perhaps take time to explore the spiritual, not the financial. Stop discussing the drop in the value of your pension and fluctuations of sterling. Yes, we care about the trade deals, tariff rates, and bags of gold to be paid to the EU. But Brexit is not about money. Christian theology reveals that it is the believers who are prepared to give up their earthly treasures who will hold dominion. The money lenders have already been thrown out of the temple. (Although, of course, even the Tories from whom the whip has been removed will be forgiven).
Brexiteers can reject the accusation of ‘evil’. In fact is men like Dominic Cummings who are representing our kingdom, and to him is the glory for ever and ever.