Sunak and Starmer deliver annual Christmas message

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Rishi Sunak and his rival Sir Keir Starmer have both issued their Christmas messages to Britons ahead of this weekend’s festive celebrations. The Conservative Prime Minister decided to break with the annual tradition of only delivering a Christmas message straight to the camera. Instead, Mr Sunak picked up the phone and made a series of surprise calls to those serving the country, including diplomats abroad and heroic public servants at home.

In his Christmas message, Mr Sunak drove home the point of thanking British public servants around the world for their “selflessness”.

Among those he called up, the Prime Minister spoke to the crew aboard the HMS Protector as well as diplomats in Pakistan, Somalia, and Ukraine.

He also talked with a holiday activities and food programme in London working over the festive period to thank them for their “sacrifices” after an “extraordinary year”.

Mr Sunak told the camera: “Whether you are working in Mogadishu or Milton Keynes this Christmas, I want you to know that I am personally grateful for your sacrifice.

“This year has been an extraordinary year for so many reasons, but most of all, it’s been a year in which the true spirit and resilience of the United Kingdom has been on show, from the support given to our Ukrainian friends, to the work being done to ensure essential aid reaches the most vulnerable overseas.”

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Mr Sunak added: “And closer to home, those who have checked on friends and neighbours, volunteers, public servants and essential service staff all working over Christmas – I am truly humbled by your dedication and I know your selflessness this festive season will spread cheer across the country.”

Mr Sunak will spend his first Prime Ministerial Christmas at home in his constituency of Richmond in North Yorkshire.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, who is spending Christmas at home in London, reflected on the struggle of the Ukrainian people in his festive message.

He said: “I hope this Christmas is a joyous and relaxing time for you, however, you are spending it.

“I’m looking forward to sharing time with my family, away from the day to day of work.

“But as I do I will be keeping in my heart all those who are working to keep us safe.

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“Those looking after the less fortunate, and our friends in Ukraine, facing the horror of Putin’s appalling attacks. Their struggle for freedom inspires us all.”

Mr Sunak’s message of thanks to public servants comes against the backdrop of public sector strikes which have wreaked havoc on the country in recent weeks.

Earlier today, the Royal College of Nursing announced that nurses will go on strike again on 18 and 19 January in England unless pay talks are opened.

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The GMB union, which called off the second day of ambulance strikes on 28 December, announced a new walkout on 11 January.

Meanwhile, the head of the PCS union warned that strikes by Border Force staff at UK airports could go on for months unless the government enters talks over pay.

Prime Minister Sunak responded to the threat of new strikes by saying he was “sad” about disruption being “to so, so many people’s lives, particularly at Christmas time.”

He insisted he had acted “fairly and reasonably” over public sector pay.

Meanwhile, the latest opinion polls on who voters believe will be the best Prime Minister is now neck and neck with Rishi Sunak narrowing the gap to five points against Sir Keir Starmer.

The two leaders go into the new year with Mr Sunak now on 37 percent (down one) while Starmer is on 42 percent (down two), according to the Techne UK fortnightly best PM tracker poll.

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