Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn offer Christmas messages on security and homelessness

23 December 2018, 21:21 | Updated: 24 December 2018, 10:40

Theresa May says her thoughts this Christmas are with UK troops abroad keeping the country safe.

Jeremy Corbyn says he's thinking about homeless people and the story of the Good Samaritan.

With both leaders ending the year with their party in turmoil over Brexit, the prime minister and the Labour leader have attempted to steer clear of political controversy in their Christmas messages.

Mrs May has ended 2018 surviving an attempt by Brexiteer Tory MPs to remove her from office and found herself at the mercy of cabinet ministers who are determined to force a no-deal Brexit.

Mr Corbyn has ended it incensing pro-Remain Labour MPs and party activists by declaring in an end-of-year interview that he would go ahead with Brexit if he were to win a snap general election in the new year.

In a Christmas message to the armed forces, the prime minister praises UK troops from Salisbury to Syria and thanks them for their commitment, as many of them spend this season miles from home.

Recalling the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, she says: "This year, as we looked back to the sacrifices made by generations in the past, you continued to demonstrate why you are the finest in the world.

"From playing a vital role in cleaning up after a sickening nerve agent attack on the streets of Salisbury, protecting our waters and our skies from Russian intrusion and strengthening our allies in Eastern Europe, striking at terrorism as part of the global coalition against Daesh (Islamic State), and along with our US and French allies - sending a message to the Assad regime that we will not stand by while chemical weapons are used, as they were in April on families, including young children.

"Time and again, you have stood up to aggression and those who flout the rules based international order. You should be incredibly proud of all that you do - just as the whole country is proud of you."

Looking back on 2018, she says: "This year we also marked significant milestones.

"At memorial sites in the UK and around Europe, we honoured our fallen and paid tribute to their memory as we commemorated a centenary since the end of the First World War.

"We celebrated 100 years of the RAF - including a magnificent flypast over Buckingham Palace.

"And looking to the future, our F-35 Lightening stealth fighter jets landed on the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth for the first time."

She adds: "Now as we approach the new year, there will be new challenges ahead.

"But I know you will continue to meet them in the same way that you have always done.

"With courage, determination, resilience, ingenuity. Qualities that are as vital now as they have ever been."

In his Christmas message, in a social media video, Mr Corbyn pays tribute to those who emulate the Good Samaritan and uses the parable from St Luke's Gospel to praise those who help the nation's destitute.

His message follows a study by the charity Crisis claiming homelessness has reached a record-high, with more than 170,000 families and individuals experiencing destitution.

The Labour leader says during the festive period he sees "the compassion of the good samaritan in people across our country everyday but especially at Christmas".

He adds: "Whether it's people helping in homeless shelters offering comfort and meals for those looking to escape the freezing temperatures and dangers of sleeping rough...

"Those ensuring food banks are fully stocked for people who can't afford to eat properly this Christmas... Or volunteers raising money for refugees who've been forced to flee war, oppression and devastation...

"These are people who will not 'walk by on the other side'. They do what's become so necessary in a system that is failing to provide for people's basic needs.

"They embody what's best and most compassionate in all of us. They make me certain that we can build a fairer society which works for everyone."