The coronavirus crisis has shown the “very best of Britain”, Sir Keir Starmer has said in his Christmas message.
The Labour leader thanked key workers for their role in the pandemic and warned that NHS staff and carers “will have to step up again, one more time, this Christmas”.
Sir Keir said the Covid-19 vaccine offers a “light at the end of the tunnel” but acknowledged the difficulties many families face with “an empty space around the Christmas table” this year.
He urged people to capture the spirit shown during the crisis to “rebuild a better future for our country”.
This is his Christmas message in full:
“I want to wish you all a very merry Christmas.
“It’s a time to celebrate and come together with our family and friends.
“It’s a time for Christians in Britain and across the world to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.
“The values of Christianity, of generosity, of kindness and hope, have shone through this year.
“In every village, every town and every city, we have seen the very best of Britain – the key workers who have been our country’s rock, the servicemen and servicewomen who have stepped up, and the incredible scientists who have discovered a vaccine.
“I know it hasn’t been easy.
“I know for many of our key workers they will have to step up again, one more time, this Christmas, as will our armed forces, who have deployed here and across the overseas.
“To all of you, a heartfelt thank you.
“Christmas is a time for us to be thankful for what we value most and to care for those who have lost so much.
“Too many families have lost loved ones this year.
“For many, that is going to mean an empty space around the Christmas table, and I know how difficult this period will be without them.
“To all of those families, to all of you in isolation, my thoughts are with you all.
“This year has been like no other, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.
“The vaccine will be distributed, the spread of the virus will slow.
“Businesses will reopen, and we will recapture the spirit that has got us through the pandemic and rebuild a better future for our country.
“So, wherever you are and however you’re celebrating, stay safe, have a very merry Christmas and I look forward to seeing you in the new year.”