Archbishop: You can't say 'God says you must vote this way or that way' on EU referendum

Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby Credit: PA

There is no "one correct Christian view" on the European referendum, The Archbishop of Canterbury has said - as he encouraged people to vote based on what they fear most.

In an interview with The House magazine, Justin Welby, the most senior bishop in the Church of England, also addressed the migrant crisis - saying it was "outrageous" to brand those with concerns as "racist", while urging the government to do more.

He said he had been hesitant in speaking out on Europe until now because of the sensitive nature of the debate - and warned others against insisting on a particular viewpoint.

"You can’t say ‘God says you must vote this way or that way’," he said.

"It should be about what we fear. Fear is a valid emotion. Fear of what happens if we leave, fear of what happens if we stay. You can understand why that really matters.

"Fear is legitimate."

Justin Welby said there was 'no one correct Christian view' on the issue Credit: PA

In the interview, he said the vote had to be about what Britain does in the world.

He went on to say he hoped to have a "really visionary debate" about what the country will look like after the referendum on June 23.

"From those who want to leave; what would it look like? What would Britain look like, having left? What would be its attitude internationally? What would be its values? What are the points of excitement, of contributing to human flourishing? How does that liberate the best that is within us?" he added.

"And from those who want to stay, how would we change the European Union? How would we make it more effective if we remained in it? What’s our vision?"

The then-Bishop of Durham Justin Welby at Sunderland Minster, launching the 'One for the basket' scheme to supply food to struggling people in 2012 Credit: PA

In the interview, he also touched on the current migrant crisis facing Europe - saying it was "very reasonable" for people in the UK to "fear" an influx of migrants.

Dismissing those fears as racist is "absolutely outrageous”, he said - but urged people to understand that the country “has the capacity” to deal with many more refugees than it is currently due to accept.

He urged authorities, and charities, to help ensure enough resources were in place to held people overcome their fears.

Communities are “much more absorbent and capable than we give them credit for”, he added.