'Time of hope': Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer release Christmas messages

Credit: PA

Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer have released their Christmas messages for 2023.
Sir Keir Starmer, Rishi Sunak and other political leaders have released their Christmas messages for 2023. Credit: PA

Rishi Sunak urged people to look ahead to “the promise of a brighter future” in his annual Christmas message, while Sir Keir Starmer focused on the story of Jesus.

The Prime Minister said Christmas was “a time of hope” but it was important to remember “those facing a difficult time”.

Mr Sunak, who is a Hindu, highlighted the “Christian values at the heart of this celebration of Christ’s birth”.

The Prime Minister said: “Christmas is a time of peace, joy, compassion.

“A time of hope and a promise of a better world.

“And today as we look ahead, let’s keep that promise of a brighter future burning into the new year.”

The Prime Minister said it was a “magical time of the year” and he thanked NHS staff, police and the armed forces for “sacrificing their Christmases this year in the service of others”.

The Christmas message came between strikes by junior doctors in England, with the longest walkout in NHS history due to begin on January 3.

Mr Sunak will call a general election in 2024, with the Tories battling to hold on to power as opinion polls suggest a healthy Labour lead.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer used his message to say the story of Jesus was a reminder that “in times of darkness and despair, hope, love and peace are always worth advocating for”.

He said: “Throughout the Christmas period, we see the bonds of kinship rekindled as families and friends share in the joy, the hope and the optimism that Christmas provides.

“For Christians the world over, this is a time to rejoice in the birth of Jesus Christ – God’s son.

“The birth of Jesus Christ brings light into our world and reminds us that in times of darkness and despair, hope, love and peace are always worth advocating for.

“Charity, humility and selflessness take centre stage in the Christmas story – and this season serves as a reminder that these qualities should be a guiding light for all of us.”

He thanked the NHS, Royal Mail workers, military personnel, retail and hospitality staff for their work over Christmas, and praised the “generosity of churches and charities”.

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey Credit: James Manning/PA

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said: “I want to send my love and prayers to those caring for loved ones over Christmas.

“You are unsung heroes of our health system and Christmas is a time when your acts of kindness and care are felt even more.

“We hold in our hearts those less fortunate than ourselves. And to those who, this year, are without loved ones over Christmas.

“Whether through loss or the conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East, if you are missing family and friends at your Christmas table, you are in my thoughts.”

First Minister and SNP leader Humza Yousaf. Credit: PA

Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf also reflected on the situation in the Middle East: “My prayer this Christmas is for peace and an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.”

He also said the cost-of-living crisis would also affect people’s Christmases.

“Christmas is a special time of year where people gather with their loved ones,” the SNP leader said.

“However, I know for many people – many families in Scotland – it has been a challenging year. And as we come together over the festive period, the cost of living will be on many people’s minds.”

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