In all our sanctuaries we sit at risk

The Parrot on Sanctuary


This piece looks back to when John Skelton wrote his poem “Speak, Parrot” in the sixteenth century. All these rhyme royal stanzas about Brexit I’m writing, refer to that poem, in one way or another. It is supposed that Skelton wrote it in the precincts of Westminster, where the medieval laws of sanctuary were still operating.

In other words, he was living under the jurisdiction and hence protection of the church. The powers and laws of the state did not hold sway there. He could therefore consider himself safe, even as he attacked the head of state, Cardinal Wolsey, from within his parrot’s cage.

Is Westminster still a place where truth is safely spoken ?