Queen of England calls for Christmas calm amid Brexit storm

  • Her annual festive television appearance will give the 92-year-old monarch a rare chance to share some personal thoughts about Britain’s exit from the EU
PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 December, 2018, 7:29pm
UPDATED : Monday, 24 December, 2018, 7:36pm

Queen Elizabeth will call for respect and civility in a Christmas message to be delivered to a Britain that is badly divided over its impending exit from the EU.

Tuesday’s annual television appearance gives the 92-year-old monarch a rare chance to share some personal thoughts about Brexit.

British royalty traditionally steer well clear of politics – a unifying position that puts them above the daily fray of Westminster and Downing Street.

According to extracts released by Buckingham Palace, the Queen will not make an overt reference to Britain’s departure from the European Union on March 29, but she will note that “even with the most deeply held differences, treating the other person with respect and as a fellow human being is always a good first step towards greater understanding.”

Her address caps a stormy month that saw Prime Minister Theresa May survive a leadership challenge attempt staged by her party’s most hardened foes of the EU.

May’s entire Brexit strategy is in danger of falling apart at the finish line when parliament debates it next month. She was forced to pull a scheduled December vote on her deal with the EU after admitting that it would badly lose.

In a Christmas opinion piece, she urged lawmakers to end the saga and let people “focus on what really matters”. “The sooner MPs agree the right Brexit deal, the sooner we can all get back to dealing with those issues and building a country that works for everyone,” she wrote.

Opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said in his own pre-recorded address that Christmas was a time to ponder how “we can build a fairer society which works for everyone”.

Britain’s split from the EU after 46 years without a trade agreement threatens to unleash economic doom over the short term. Those who back Brexit say it is a price worth paying for regaining sovereignty from officials in Brussels who subject Britain to their own rules.

The debate over the whole thing is as emotional and personal for many as it was the day Brexit was backed by a 52-48 margin in a 2016 vote. The nation has been holding an unending argument ever since.

The Queen will say that the message of peace carried by the birth of Jesus in the Christmas story is particularly relevant now.

“I believe his message of peace on Earth and goodwill to all is never out of date. It can be heeded by everyone; it’s needed as much as ever,” she will say.

The Queen’s 66-year reign has spanned governments run by 13 prime ministers dating back to Winston Churchill.

Her longevity and good humour have made her into one of the most popular people in a country that loves to poke fun at other royals. But her age has forced inevitable thoughts about the transition that will see Prince Charles – the Queen’s less popular 70-year-old son – take charge of Buckingham Palace.

She will say in her speech that she has drawn strength from her family as times changed and the political sands shifted.

“Through the many changes I have seen over the years, faith, family and friendship have been not only a constant for me but a source of personal comfort and reassurance,” she will say.

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