UK PM Rishi Sunak plans mandatory National Service for youth in election pledge, know what is it

National Service was first introduced in 1947 after World War II. The scheme came to an end in 1960.

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UK PM Rishi Sunak plans mandatory National Service for youth in election pledge, know what is it


In one of his first major election pledge announcements on Sunday, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he will introduce a “bold new” form of mandatory National Service for young people if the Conservatives win another five-year term in the July 4 polls.

The British Indian leader said his plan would see 18-year-olds given the choice of a full-time military placement for 12 months or a scheme to volunteer for one weekend a month for a year. The military placement would be selective, with tests used to decide eligibility, and involve working with the armed forces or in cyber defence.

“We have so much to be proud of in Britain but one of the problems in our society is that we have generations of young people who don't have the opportunities they deserve,” said Sunak in a campaign video to announce this new Tory proposal.

“Britain today faces a future that is more dangerous and more divided. There's no doubt how democratic values are under threat; that is why we will introduce a bold new model of National Service for 18 year olds to be spent either in a competitive full-time military commission over 12 months or with one weekend per month volunteering in roles within the community, like delivering prescriptions and food to infirm people or in search and rescue,” he said.

What is National Service? 

National Service was introduced in 1947 after World War II by the then Labour government which involved men between the ages of 17 and 21 required to serve in the armed forces for 18 months. This mandatory National Service scheme came to an end in 1960.

The Tory leader said this would enable young people to gain valuable skills, make the UK more secure and build a stronger national culture. “This ambition benefits our country and our young people alike,” he said, pointing to Sweden where 80 per cent of young people completing National Service say they recommend it to their friends.

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“Uncertain times call for a clear plan and bold action to charter course to a better future. Our plan will ensure new generations and our country meet the challenges of an uncertain world,” he added. While he took aim at the Opposition to say they lack such a “clear plan”, the Keir Starmer-led Labour Party hit back against the proposal.

“This is another desperate GBP 2.5 billion unfunded commitment from a Tory party which already crashed the economy, sending mortgages rocketing, and now they're spoiling for more. This is not a plan – it's a review which could cost billions and is only needed because the Tories hollowed out the Armed Forces to their smallest size since Napoleon,” the Labour Party said in a statement.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by DNA staff and is published from PTI)

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