This year, on a video call to British troops stationed abroad, the Prime Minister thanked the armed forces for their “sacrifice and effort” throughout the pandemic. The Prime Minister said: “You represent, in my view, the very best of our country; the thing people really want to see around the world.
“It’s not just abroad that this has been an amazing year for the armed services.
“So many of you have been responsible for doing extraordinary things here at home, thousands of you helping to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.
“Building the Nightingales, delivering PPE, testing people, and now leading the way and helping the country to get vaccinated.”
Meanwhile, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer hinted at optimism in his own Christmas speech, stating there is “light at the end of the tunnel” amid the pandemic.
He said: “The vaccine will be distributed. The spread of the virus will slow. Businesses will reopen.
“In every village, every town and every city we have seen the very best of Britain.
“The key workers who have been our country’s rock. The servicemen and servicewomen who have stepped up. And the incredible scientists who have discovered a vaccine.”
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It is common for the Prime Minister to issue a thank you message to Britain’s service men and women at this time of year.
Both Mr Johnson and his predecessor Theresa May did so around Christmas Eve in 2019 and 2018 respectively.
Earlier this month, 300 British Armed Forces troops were deployed to Mali as part of a UN peacekeeping mission.
The Ministry of Defence said the troops would “provide a highly specialised reconnaissance capability, conducting patrol to gather intelligence and engage with the local population to help the UN respond to threats from violent extremism, and weak governance.”
The 300-strong UK task group joins an existing peacekeeping effort of more than 14,000 people from 56 countries around the world in Mali.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the Mali deployment was part of ongoing work in Africa’s Sahel region to “build stability, improve the humanitarian response and help protect innocent civilians from violence.”
The Government say the region is currently experiencing a rise in terrorist violence and is also vulnerable to climate change effects.