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UK’s Sunak promises mandatory national service for 18-year-olds if elected | Politics News

The ruling Conservative Party says it will restore national service if it wins the July 4 general election.

Eighteen-year-olds will have to complete compulsory national service if the Conservative Party is returned to power in the July 4 elections in the United Kingdom, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced.

The UK has “generations of young people who have not had the opportunities they deserve”, and the measure would help unite society in an “increasingly uncertain world”, Sunak said on Saturday.

The Prime Minister’s plan would give young people the choice between a full-time placement in the armed forces for 12 months or one weekend a month for a year as a volunteer in their community, the party said.

The announcement comes as the Conservatives prepare for elections, intensifying their attacks on the opposition Labor Party.


The United Kingdom conducted national service between 1947 and 1960, with men aged 17 to 21 serving in the armed forces for 18 months. The British army has reduced its troop strength from 100,000 in 2010 to almost 73,000 by January 2024, the BBC reported.

The Conservative Party said placement in the armed forces would help teenagers “learn and participate in logistics, cybersecurity, procurement or civil response operations”.

The community service option would involve helping local firefighters, police and the UK’s National Health Service, as well as charities tackling loneliness among isolated older people. The program would cost around 2.5 billion pounds ($3.2 billion) a year, the BBC reported.

A royal commission, made up of experts from the military and civil society, would be established to design the national service programme.

The first pilot of the program would open applications in September 2025. Then, the Conservatives would introduce a “national service law” to make the measures mandatory by the end of the next parliament.


The Conservatives insisted the plan did not amount to conscription, the Guardian reported.

“This new compulsory national service will provide life-changing opportunities for our young people, giving them the chance to learn real-world skills, do new things and contribute to their community and our country,” Sunak said.

“The consequences of uncertainty are clear. No plan means a more dangerous world. You, your family and our country are all at risk if Labor wins,” he added.

Labor called the announcement a “desperate new commitment without funding” and said Foreign Secretary David Cameron introduced a similar program – the National Citizen Service – when he was prime minister.

A Labor spokesperson said: “This is not a plan – it is an overhaul that could cost billions and is only necessary because the Tories have reduced the armed forces to their smallest size since Napoleon . »

“Britain has had enough of the Tories, who have no ideas and no plan to end 14 years of chaos. It’s time to turn the page and rebuild Britain with Labour.”

Several European countries, including Sweden, Norway and Denmark, have already implemented some form of conscription for their armed forces.

News Source : www.aljazeera.com
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