Britons should be guided and brought together by the values of growing up in a Church of England vicarage as the UK leaves the European Union, Theresa May says today.
The Prime Minister also said that Christians should not be afraid to discuss their faith in public in a message to mark Easter Day.
Mrs May, the daughter of a vicar, said Britons’ “shared interests, our shared ambitions, and above all our shared values can – and must – bring us together” after the decision to leave the EU. She said: “After a period of intense debate over the right future for our country, there is a sense that people are coming together and uniting behind the opportunities that lie ahead.”.
The Prime Ministerdescribed Easter as “a moment to reflect and an important time for Christians and others to gather together with families and friends”.
She said: “I think of those values that we share – values that I learnt in my own childhood, growing up in a vicarage. Values of compassion, community, citizenship. The sense of obligation we have to one another.
“These are values we all hold in common – and values that are visibly lived out every day by Christians – as well as by people of other faiths or none.”
Mrs May grew up in the village of Church Enstone in the Cotswolds with her father the Reverend Hubert Brasier and her mother Zaidee.
The Conservative leader also reiterated her view that Britons should not be afraid of discussing their faith with friends or work colleagues.
She said: “We should be confident about the role that Christianity has to play in the lives of people in our country. And we should treasure the strong tradition that we have in this country of religious tolerance and freedom of speech.
“We must continue to ensure that people feel able to speak about their faith, and that absolutely includes their faith in Christ.”
Mrs May also paid tribute to “the sacrifices and service of aid workers who put themselves in harm’s way to bring much needed relief in war-torn parts of the world”.
She said: “We should celebrate all these contributions and others like them, and the difference they make in our society and around the world.”
Mrs May added: “And we must do more to stand up for the freedom of people of all religions to practise their beliefs openly and in peace and safety. So this Easter, whatever our faith, let us come together as a nation confident in our values and united in our commitment to fulfil the obligations that we have to one another.”
Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, called for people to tackle the world’s problems “through action and support for social justice, peace and reconciliation”. He said: “Christians throughout the world will this weekend be remembering Jesus’s example of love and sacrifice, and the Easter message of redemption and peace.”
Tim Farron, the Liberal Democrat leader, warned against Britain becoming consumed by nostalgia and nationalism. He said: “I don’t want the Christian message to be stolen by the nostalgic nationalists, just as no liberal should seek to appropriate Jesus for their own purposes either.”