A balance of interests: Britain, the EU and the Common Good (11/5/16)


A balance of interests: Britain, the EU and the Common Good

For videos click on links below, also find a link to audio of the whole event and biographies of speakers.

This event on 11 May 2016, was part of our residency at St Michael's Cornhill in the week of 9-13 May 2016

What is the EU for? What is our vision for Britain in the world?

The EU Referendum decision is widely portrayed as about the ‘British national interest’, which it certainly is. But in the Christian tradition, politics is about promoting ‘the common good’, something wider than the interests of one nation.

What is ‘the national interest’ anyway?

At this critical watershed moment we offered this special debate to consider this balance of interests - how we can bring together what is good for Britain with what is good for Europe.

SpeakersDr Jonathan Chaplin - Political Theologian, Director, Kirby Laing Institute of Christian Ethics CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO (incomplete recording due to poor sound quality in second half of speech). An abridged version of his talk was published in the Church of England Newspaper, click here (no paywall).

  • Peter Smith, Barrister, Member of the Catholic Union and Catholic Voices (Frank Field MP was unwell) CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO

Caroline MacFarland, Director, CoVi (Common Vision) CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO

Moderator: Dr Eliza Filby - Writer, historical commentator and broadcaster.

FOR AUDIO OF WHOLE EVENT CLICK HERE - NB apologies for echo due to acoustics in the church 

We also held another discussion the following night, 12 May at 7pmIs it Possible to Build a Common Good With Money? With speakers Lord Maurice Glasman and Professor Philip BoothModerator: Eve Poole.

We had a prayer installation for the common good in the church throughout the week.

We are grateful to our sponsors CCLA and the Social Stock Exchange, and to our partners The Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics, and CoVi for filming the events. 


Peter Smith is a barrister practising in media and commercial law in London, and a founder of Lawyers for Britain, a group of lawyers campaigning for Brexit. He read social and political sciences and international relations at Cambridge and worked as Parliamentary research assistant to Sir Edward Leigh MP. He is Research Secretary of the Bow Group, the UK’s oldest conservative think tank. He is also a member of Catholic Voices, a bureau of lay Catholics who speak about Christianity on the media. He has written for Conservative Home, Standpoint, the Catholic Herald, as well as obituaries for The Times. As a commercial barrister, Peter has helped small- and medium-sized enterprises, sole traders and family businesses successfully obtain redress from banks for mis-sales of interest rate hedging products. (Kindly standing in at short notice in place of Frank Field who was unwell).

Dr. Jonathan Chaplin is the Director of the Kirby Laing Institute for Christian Ethics. He is a member of the Divinity Faculty of Cambridge University, and was Visiting Lecturer at the VU University, Amsterdam from 2007-2011. He is a specialist in Christian political thought, and has authored or edited nine books and reports, and many articles in this field. His most recent publication is God and the EU: Faith in the European Project, co-editor (Routledge, 2016). He is currently writing a book called Faith in Democracy? Towards a Post-secularist Settlement. Jonathan is a contributor to Together for the Common Good: Towards a National Conversation (Eds Sagovsky/McGrail, SCM 2015).

Caroline MacFarland is the Founder and Director of CoVi (Common Vision), a think tank dedicated to exploring the politics and practice of the Common Good. Caroline was formerly the Managing Director of ResPublica and has also worked for the Fabian Society, the Big Lottery Fund and Power to Change.  Previously Caroline worked in communications and PR, which contributed to her ideas for a more accessible, interactive way of engaging people with policy ideas. At CoVi she convenes and curates research and discussion around common purpose and shared values, beyond conventional ‘left wing’ and ‘right wing’ partisan debates to promote civic engagement beyond a politically active minority. You can find her on @CarolineMacf and CoVi at @covithinktank.

Dr Eliza Filby is a historian of contemporary values, businesswoman, writer and academic. Currently a visiting fellow in Modern British History at King’s College London, Eliza's first book 'God and Mrs Thatcher: the Battle for Britain's Soul' (Biteback, 2015) was published last year.  Eliza regularly appears on TV and Radio as a historical commentator. She has written for The Times, Telegraph, Church Times, Guardian, Spectator, Standpoint and has reviewed for The Tablet and The Financial Times.  She is currently researching her second book, Generation WTF, a history of Generation Y.  She is also founder of GradTrain, a training organisation which seeks to prepare graduates for the job market. You can find her on Twitter: @elizafilby. Eliza was a speaker at the first Together for the Common Good Conference in 2013

Click here for details of the T4CG book, Together for the Common Good: Towards a National Conversation