Archbishop Welby urges reconciliation after EU poll divisions

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Media captionThe Archbishop of Canterbury: "The EU referendum was a tough campaign and it has left divisions"

Britons should embrace reconciliation after a year in which Brexit caused divisions, the Archbishop of Canterbury has said.

In his new year message, the Most Reverend Justin Welby said the UK can flourish if it takes hold of the future "with determination and courage".

He urged people to look to the country's roots to find a path to healing those divisions.

The archbishop also praised refugees who have made their home in Britain.

He said: "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."

The archbishop echoed the sentiment of Prime Minister Theresa May, who called for unity following June's "divisive" vote in her new year message.

'Christ-like world'

He returned to Coventry where he became a clergyman in its cathedral, which was destroyed by the Luftwaffe during World War Two.

The archbishop said the city's wartime suffering and forgiveness served as an example to the nation.

He also referred to Sabir Zazai who arrived in the UK as an Afghan refugee in 1999 and now runs the Coventry Refugees and Migrant centre.

He said there were similar refugee success stories all over the country and "they are a blessing to our way of life".

"They are embracing all that's good and that doesn't just enrich their lives, it enriches and deepens ours too," he added.

The archbishop said welcoming strangers and living well together were the foundations of British values and traditions and can make the UK "a beacon of hope" in a "troubled world".

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