Theresa May: UK should be proud of Christian heritage and religious freedom

The UK should be proud of its Christian heritage, Theresa May has said in her Christmas message that focused on religious freedoms around the world.

The Prime Minister urged Britons to 'take pride in our Christian heritage and the confidence it gives us to ensure that in Britain you can practice your faith free from question or fear'.

Theresa May is a regular churchgoers and grew up in the vicarage.Reuters

May, a vicar's daughter, went on: 'Let us remember those around the world today who have been denied those freedoms – from Christians in some parts of the Middle East to the sickening persecution of the Rohingya Muslims.'

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said his Christmas wish was for everyone to do more to build the society they want and help the 'cut off and lonely'.

The Lib Dem's Vince Cable focused on the importance of more mental health support and affordable housing.

May started her message by thanking 'those whose service to others means they will be spending time away from their loved ones this Christmas'. She paid tribute to the armed forces as well as emergency services, making particular reference to their response to the Grenfell Tower tragedy and the 'abhorrent terrorist attacks in Manchester and London'.

The Prime Minister, who attends regularly and grew up in a vicarage, said: 'As we celebrate the birth of Christ, let us celebrate all those selfless acts - and countless others - that epitomise the values we share: Christian values of love, service and compassion that are lived out every day in our country by people all faiths and none.'

She concluded: 'This Christmas, whatever our faith, let us come together confident and united in the values we share.'

Corbyn said Christmas was 'a time of the year when we think about others. Like those who have no home to call their own or who are sleeping rough on our streets.

'We think about those who feel cut off and lonely. Many older citizens to whom we owe so much will be spending what should be a time of joy alone.

'We think of others such as carers who look after loved ones, people with disabilities or dementia.'

He referred to conflicts in Yemen, Syria and Libya and said: 'None of this is inevitable. We pride ourselves on being a compassionate nation.

'My Christmas wish is that we all do more to help bring about the kind of society and world we want to live in.'