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UK prime minister urges post-Brexit unity

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Theresa May delivered her first Christmas message as prime minister on December 24, 2016.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has urged citizens to unite and move forward after a vote to leave the European Union sparked deep divisions in the country.

In her first Christmas message on Saturday, May said, "As we leave the European Union we must seize a historic opportunity to forge a bold new role for ourselves in the world and to unite our country as we move forward into the future."

In a referendum held on June 23, nearly 52 percent of British voters, amounting to more than 17 million citizens, opted to leave the EU, a decision that sent shock waves throughout the world.

May has vowed to trigger Article 50 -- the step required to officially begin Brexit negotiations, by March next year. Her critics, however, accuses her of having no precise plan to start the negotiations.

Sources close to her said formerly that May is still “confident” her timetable will not be delayed. May reaffirmed on Tuesday that she is focusing on “delivering on the vote of the British people – which is that we will be leaving the European Union.”

In her Christmas message, the UK prime minister also vowed to "stand up for the freedom of people of all religions to practice their beliefs in peace and safety."

“Wherever you are this Christmas, I wish you joy and peace in this season of celebration, along with health and happiness in the year ahead," she added.

Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn (AFP file photo)

Opposition Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn, however, used his Christmas message to criticize the “shocking rise” of homelessness in the country.

“On the streets of our cities and towns there has been a shocking rise in homelessness,” Corbyn said. “The fact is, in the sixth richest country in the world, no-one should be on the streets in the first place.”

He said 120,000 children would spend Christmas without a home to call their own. He vowed to "effectively end rough sleeping within our first term in government."

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