Community is 'joy and blessing', says Archbishop of Canterbury in call for national unity

The Archbishop of Canterbury has urged Britain to overcome the 'divisions' of recent years in a New Year sermon.

The sermon at his Lambeth Palace residence, to be broadcast this afternoon by the BBC, reflects the themes of his Christmas broadcast in which he also called for national reconciliation.

Justin Welby has called for British people to see each other as neighbours.Lambeth Palace

In today's message he will say, in an implicit reference to the continuing acrimonious debate about Brexit: 'We're wonderfully much more diverse than we used to be. Yet we disagree on many things. And we are struggling with how to disagree well. Turn on the television, read the news, and you see a lot that could tempt you to despair.'

He will call for a new attitude in 2019 reflecting the 'joy and blessing of being a community', saying: 'Hope lies in our capacity to approach this new year in a spirit of openness towards each other. Committed to discovering more of what it means to be citizens together, even amid great challenges and changes.

'That will involve choosing to see ourselves as neighbours, as fellow citizens, as communities each with something to contribute. It will mean gathering around our common values, a common vision and a commitment to one another.

'With the struggles and divisions of recent years, that will not be easy. But that difficult work is part of the joy and blessing of being a community.'

Prime Minister Theresa May is expected to call a parliamentary vote on her proposed Brexit deal this month, with many doubting whether it will pass.