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Dublin: 12 °C Wednesday 23 October, 2019
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Theresa May challenges Britain to 'forge bold new role' in bullish Christmas message

The Queen and British athletes at the Olympics and Paralympics were singled out for praise by May.

Image: Virginia Mayo AP/Press Association Images

BRITISH PRIME MINISTER Theresa May has used her first Christmas message as PM to urge the UK to seize the “historic opportunity” afforded by the Brexit referendum to “forge a bold new role” in the world.

In a tumultuous year at home and abroad, May says that the “United Kingdom has had much to celebrate” in 2016.

In the brief message, the Prime Minister singled out the armed forces, olympians and the Queen for praise, and referenced her own upbringing in a vicarage while wishing “joy and peace” to all.

In terms of Britain “coming together”, she said:

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.”

Speaking on what united the UK this year, she said: “Her Majesty the Queen celebrated her 90th birthday, surrounded by the Royal Family and well-wishers from across our four nations, the Commonwealth and the world.

“Four years after the success of London 2012, our Olympic and Paralympic athletes continued to work and train – and they were rewarded by coming second in the medal table.

Many of us will have more personal memories too, of happy times with family and friends. These are precious moments when people from many backgrounds, with different beliefs, come together to celebrate with families and communities.

May added that Britain re-affirmed its commitment to stand up for people of all religions to practise their religion freely in peace and safety at a time of year when “we also think of Christians in other parts of the world who face persecution this Christmas”.

She closed by mentioning her upbringing in a vicarage, and that she understood how demanding it can be for those who have to work over the Christmas period. May thanked the armed forces, security agencies and emergency services who work all year round to serve the public.

Enda Kenny recently told reporters that he expected a visit from Prime Minister May to Dublin next month, to discuss the upcoming Article 50 negotiations and other matters.

Read: Theresa May is coming to Ireland next month

Read: British lawyer to mount Brexit challenge in Irish High Court

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Sean Murray

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