Theresa May uses Christmas message to call for post-Brexit unity

Joe Hall
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Theresa May first Christmas message
May: "We must unite our country as we move forward." (Source: 10 Downing Street)

Theresa May has used her first Christmas message as Prime Minister to call on Britain to come together as it negotiates its exit from the European Union.

In a speech that drew on her Christian faith, May said the country was faced with an "historic opportunity" thanks to Brexit and asked people to think of persecuted Christians around the world unable to enjoy the festivities.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn talked about the issue of homelessness while Liberal Democrats leader Tim Farron used the message to highlight the plight of unaccompanied child refugees in Europe.

Acknowledging Christmas as a time for families to spend time with one another, the PM said: "Coming together is also important for us as a country

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"As we leave the European Union we must seize an historic opportunity to forge a bold new role for ourselves in the world and to unite our country as we move forward into the future.

"And, with our international partners, we must work together to promote trade, increase prosperity and face the challenges to peace and security around the world."

Ms May, who grew up in a Vicarage, also said fellow Christians around the world facing persecution for their faith would be on her mind.

"As we gather with our friends and families at this time of year we proudly celebrate the birth of Christ and the message of forgiveness, love and hope that he brings," she said.

"We also think of Christians in other parts of the world who face persecution this Christmas and re-affirm our determination to stand up for the freedom of people of all religions to practise their beliefs in peace and safety."

Labour leader Corbyn highlighted statistics from homeless charities on the number of people who will spend the Christmas season on the streets.

"It's a time of year where many of us get time off, where we spend time with our family and our loved ones," said Corbyn.

"But for others, it's a time of increased loneliness and despair. On the streets of our cities and towns there has been a shocking rise in homelessness.

"The fact is, in the sixth richest country in the world, no one should be homeless in the first place. The charity Shelter tell us that 120,000 children will spend this Christmas without a home to call their own."

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