Rishi Sunak highlights ‘promise of a better future’ in Christmas address after torrid 2023

The prime minister said Christmas is ‘a time of hope’ but that it is important to remember those ‘facing a difficult time’

Archie Mitchell
Sunday 24 December 2023 00:20 GMT
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Sunak switches on Downing Street Christmas tree lights

Rishi Sunak has urged people to focus on “the promise of a better future” in his Christmas message ahead of next year’s general election.

The prime minister said Christmas is “a time of hope” but that it is 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 PM 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 described Christmas as a ‘magical time of the year’
The prime minister described Christmas as a ‘magical time of the year’ (PA)

His words came as Sir Keir Starmer and the other major party leaders sent Christmas messages to voters.

The Labour leader said the story of Jesus is a reminder that “in times of darkness and despair, hope, love and peace are always worth advocating for”.

And Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey said Christmas “gives us a chance to reflect on the past year, whilst looking forward to a new one”.

Mr Sunak and the other party leaders were reflecting on the values of Christmas after a torrid year dominated by spiralling inflation, industrial action, and record NHS waiting lists.

The prime minister described it as a “magical time of the year” and thanked NHS staff, police and the armed forces for “sacrificing their Christmases this year in the service of others”.

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

Keir Starmer’s Christmas address focused on hope and optimism
Keir Starmer’s Christmas address focused on hope and optimism (PA)

Sir Keir 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, postal workers, military personnel, and retail and hospitality staff for their work over Christmas, and praised the “generosity of churches and charities”.

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

Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey highlighted the plight of those who are missing loved ones over Christmas
Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey highlighted the plight of those who are missing loved ones over Christmas (PA)

“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.”

Scottish first minister Humza Yousaf used his Christmas message to address the conflict in the Middle East, saying: “My prayer this Christmas is for peace and an immediate ceasefire in Gaza.”

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

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

Humza Yousaf talked about the conflict between Israel and Hamas
Humza Yousaf talked about the conflict between Israel and Hamas (PA)

“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.”

Mr Sunak will call a general election in 2024, with his party facing an uphill battle to avoid electoral wipeout at the hands of Sir Keir’s resurgent Labour Party.

The Tories are currently 19 points behind Labour in the polls, and have been warned they face defeat on the scale of Tony Blair’s 1997 landslide.

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