The practical faith of Theresa May

Theresa May was never an active supporter of the Conservative Christian Fellowship when I was its director, but when I moved to the Centre for Social Justice (CSJ) she volunteered and delivered help from the day that Iain Duncan Smith founded it. And this gives a clue to the very English Christianity that shapes the politics of this vicar’s daughter.

May remains a regular churchgoer but she will never be someone who talks a great deal about her religious beliefs. Insofar as she wants people to know about her faith it is through works rather than words.

And the works during her time as Home Secretary add up to a not inconsiderable legacy. Working with the CSJ, she enacted the Human Slavery Act and its ambition to curtail people trafficking.

Against resistance from the Conservative Party’s harder line law and order lobby she also oversaw reforms to “stop and search”. She felt that aggressive policing of ethnic minorities was wrong as well as counter-productive and she reformed it.

Many Christians may feel that her tough approach to immigration often lacked compassion and the infamous “Go home” vans that May eventually agreed to remove from the roads (after even Ukip had attacked them) were certainly a low point.

Overall, however, there is nothing unChristian about controlling immigration. The greatest danger to race relations and to a nation’s openness to economic and humanitarian immigration is a failure to manage borders and for people to develop a sense that their communities and local services are being overwhelmed.

If you really want to apportion blame for anti-immigrant feeling it might be most appropriate to point fingers at the European politicians who designed the EU’s freedom of movement regime or the politicians who have never sought consent for the levels of immigration that Britain and other European nations have experienced over recent years. Continue reading

  • Tim Montgomerie is a columnist for the Times and Senior Fellow at the Legatum Institute.
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