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Monday June 24, 2024

UK Tories pledge to bring back national service for 18-year-olds

PM Rishi Sunak said scheme would “create a shared sense of purpose among our young people and a renewed sense of pride in our country”

By AFP
May 27, 2024
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, his wife Akshata Murty and Bob Blackman, Conservative Member of Parliament, attend a Conservative general election campaign event in Stanmore, London. — Reuters/File
British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, his wife Akshata Murty and Bob Blackman, Conservative Member of Parliament, attend a Conservative general election campaign event in Stanmore, London. — Reuters/File

LONDON: Britain´s ruling Conservative Party has said it will bring back national service if it wins power again in the UK general election on July 4.

Eighteen-year-olds would either choose to join the military full-time for 12 months or spend one weekend every month volunteering in their community over a year, under the plans announced late on Saturday.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the scheme would “create a shared sense of purpose among our young people and a renewed sense of pride in our country”.

“This new, mandatory national service will provide life-changing opportunities for our young people, offering them the chance to learn real world skills, do new things and contribute to their community and our country,” he said in a statement.

Despite Sunak saying it would be mandatory, his interior minister James Cleverly told Sky News on Sunday that there would be no criminal sanctions for any young person who refuses to take part.

The Conservatives, in power since 2010, estimate the scheme will cost around £2.5 billion ($3.2 billion) a year, with the first teenagers taking part in September 2025.

Young people who choose to sign up for a placement in the forces would “learn and take part in logistics, cyber security, procurement or civil response operations”, the Tories said.