Archbishop says we must heal our divisions

The Archbishop of Canterbury will urge Britons to reconcile the divisions cleaved by the 'tough' EU referendum campaign in his new year message.

The Archbishop of Canterbury

Brexit would “profoundly” affect the country’s future, but its citizens should look to examples from Britain’s past for a route towards social harmony, the Most Rev Justin Welby is expected to say when he addresses the nation.

His message comes after former Ukip leader Nigel Farage criticised as “negative” the Archbishop’s Christmas Day sermon, which did not mention Brexit.

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The 60-year-old will say: “Last year, we made a decision that will profoundly affect the future of our country - a decision made democratically by the people.

“The EU Referendum was a tough campaign and it has left divisions.

“But I know that if we look at our roots, our history and our culture in the Christian tradition, if we reach back into what is best in this country, we will find a path towards reconciling the differences that have divided us.

“If we are welcoming to those in need, if we are generous in giving, if we take hold of our new future with determination and courage - then we will flourish.”

He will cite Dick Howard, the Second World War-era Provost of Coventry Cathedral who called for a more “Christ-like world” following the bombing of the area in 1940, and praise the city as an example of “Britain at its best”.

And he is expected to speak about Sabir Zazai, an Afghan refugee who arrived in the UK in 1999 and now runs the Coventry Refugees and Migrant centre.

“There are people like Sabir all over the country and they are a blessing to our way of life”, the Archbishop will say.

“They are embracing all that’s good and that doesn’t just enrich their lives, it enriches and deepens ours too.”

Being hospitable to strangers and living well together are the foundations of British values and traditions and can make the UK “a beacon of hope” in a “troubled world”, he will say.

The Archbishop’s new year message will be broadcast on BBC One at 1.50pm and BBC Two 4.55pm on January 1.