Theresa May urges Brits to celebrate Jesus with pride in first Christmas message as PM
Theresa May called on Britain to "proudly celebrate the birth of Christ" today in her first Christmas message as Prime Minister.
The Conservative leader offered her support to Christians persecuted in other parts of the world and evoked her childhood growing up in a vicarage to pay tribute to those who work over the festive period.
And she made a plea for unity as Britain looks to its future outside of the European Union.
The Prime Minister's message marked a change in tone from David Cameron, who avoided an overtly religious sentiment at Christmas until his final year in office.
“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,” Mrs May 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.”
She added: “Having grown up in a vicarage, I know how demanding it can be for those who have to work over the Christmas period.
“So it’s right for all of us to express our gratitude to those who will have to spend Christmas away from the people they love in looking after others.”
The Prime Minister celebrated Britain's achievements during 2016, such as its success at the Olympics in Rio and the Queen reaching 90, as she spoke warmly of the UK's family and community spirit.
Turning to Brexit, she added: “Coming together is also important for us as a country.
“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.”
She concluded: “Wherever you are this Christmas, I wish you joy and peace in this season of celebration, along with health and happiness in the year ahead.”
In a separate Christmas message Mrs May hailed Britain's Armed Forces as "the finest in the world" and thanked them for helping to keep Britain safe.