UK Politics

UK's Christian heritage stressed in PM's Christmas message

Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn Image copyright Getty Images

Britons should "take pride" in their country's Christian heritage at Christmas, Theresa May has said.

In her Christmas message, the prime minister said there is a "confidence... that in Britain you can practise your faith free from question or fear".

She also praised the emergency services for their Grenfell Tower and Manchester and London terror attacks responses.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn's message says people should help those "cut off and lonely", and in war-torn nations.

The Lib Dem Leader Vince Cable spoke of the need for more affordable housing, and mental health support, while SNP First Minister Nicola Sturgeon paid tribute to people working as volunteers at Christmas.

Inspiring heroes

Mrs May began her message by thanking "those whose service to others means they will be spending time away from their loved ones this Christmas".

She paid tribute to the "men and women in our armed forces, whose humbling bravery and daily sacrifices help to ensure the security of our nation and our allies around the world.

And she spoke of "the heroes in our emergency services, whose courage and dedication so inspired the nation in response to tragedy at Grenfell Tower and the abhorrent terrorist attacks in Manchester and London."

Mrs May also praised volunteers who give up their time at Christmas to take on faith inspired projects, and aid agency staff working abroad.

The prime minister, who grew up in a vicarage, added: "As we celebrate the birth of Christ, let us celebrate all those selfless acts - and countless others - that epitomise the values we share: Christian values of love, service and compassion that are lived out every day in our country by people all faiths and none."

Mrs May referred to Christians in some parts of the Middle East being denied religious freedoms and the "sickening persecution of the Rohingya Muslims".

She concluded: "This Christmas, whatever our faith, let us come together confident and united in the values we share."

Corbyn's 'Christmas wish'

Mr Corbyn said Christmas was "a time of the year when we think about others. Like those who have no home to call their own or who are sleeping rough on our streets.

"We think about those who feel cut off and lonely. Many older citizens to whom we owe so much will be spending what should be a time of joy alone.

"We think of others such as carers who look after loved ones, people with disabilities or dementia."

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Media captionJeremy Corbyn delivers his Christmas message

He said thoughts were also with those "living in nations like Yemen, Syria and Libya in fear of bombs and bullets, of injury and death".

He said: "None of this is inevitable. We pride ourselves on being a compassionate nation.

"My Christmas wish is that we all do more to help bring about the kind of society and world we want to live in."

In her message, Ms Sturgeon said Christmas was a time of celebration, but also a "time for thinking about and helping others".

The SNP leader added: "For many people - for example workers in our emergency services, our health service and in our armed forces - Christmas isn't a holiday at all.

"Your hard work is appreciated all the year round, but is particularly valued at Christmas time. So over this festive period, let's thank those who are working so hard on our behalf."

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