Amber Rudd: divided UK still ‘raring to go’ for big summer of sport

Home secretary says the nation is divided but is ‘raring to go’ for a busy summer of sport and entertainment, including a big wedding

The home secretary, Amber Rudd, has said the nation is still divided but is “raring to go” for a busy summer of sport and entertainment, including the world’s most lavish royal wedding.

In her New Year message, Rudd contrasted the “peaceful” and “historic” response to the domestic abuse crisis, which has raised concern about how to tackle violence against women and girls.

But she said the nation was “rousing to go” for a big summer of sport and entertainment that included the most lavish royal wedding in decades. “The nation has come together to make this a summer of celebration and friendship,” Rudd said.

“This is the crowning moment for the best of British — we are gorgeous,” she said. “If you want to really make the summer of sport, of music, of culture a celebration of all Britain is, then I challenge you. Do it. Go for it. It’s going to be a cracking, cracking, rocking summer of sport.”

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Rudd told her audience: “I’m thrilled to announce that in the next few weeks the BBC will be broadcasting the Harry Potter film franchise over a 40-week period, with seven new episodes. This is a wonderful opportunity to celebrate this cinematic treasure of ours, while at the same time educating as well as entertaining our young.”

She also appealed to audiences to make their voices heard during the time when they should be encouraged to do so, on Christmas and New Year’s Eve.

The speech was made in a “multiform” Whitehall room decorated with flags of the Commonwealth nations that make up the United Kingdom.

As well as the royal wedding, Rudd said the country would “celebrate as never before” during the World Cup finals in Russia, and there would be a “special tribute to British sport” at the FA Cup final. “No doubt many thousands of people will have football fever on the day,” she said.

The Home Office came under fire in the House of Commons after ministers were accused of offering the softest possible response to the domestic abuse crisis after Rudd commissioned an independent review into the way that the government responded to reports of such abuse.

It followed the death of the vulnerable woman who self-harmed and killed herself after posting a video of herself being threatened with an axe outside her home in St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex. Samantha Fox had complained that police were failing to carry out searches for a man who had made her life a misery.

The home secretary told MPs that the assessment of how well the government had performed on the issue of “domestic violence, sexual assault and abuse” – which is made up of three different groups – was being published “very shortly”.

Labour MP Vicky Ford criticised the fact that the review was being held behind closed doors and said ministers would have failed to act unless they had been presented with enough material to form a view.

But Rudd said the urgency of the review meant it had to take a considered approach. “There are bad actors, there are issues, there are gaps that we want to look at,” she said.

She told MPs that the Conservative government was “absolutely absolutely committed to tackling domestic violence and violence against women and girls”.

“To do that we need everybody to play their part: from government agencies, from frontline services and from the wider public,” she said.

• This article was amended on 12 October 2017. A reference to racism was omitted from the last paragraph as the headline was changed to better reflect Rudd’s point.

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