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Rishi Sunak Pledges to Reintroduce National Service if Conservatives Win General Election

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Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced a plan to reintroduce a form of National Service for young people if the Conservative Party wins the upcoming general election.

In a bold policy reveal, Sunak outlined a scheme where 18-year-olds would choose between a full-time military placement for 12 months or a part-time volunteer program involving one weekend a month for a year. The military placement would be selective, requiring candidates to pass eligibility tests and potentially involve roles within the armed forces or cyber defense units.

For those opting for the volunteer route, the program would entail 25 days of service with organizations such as the police, fire service, NHS, or charities supporting isolated elderly individuals.

Sunak emphasized that this initiative would provide “life-changing opportunities for young people” and help them acquire “real-world skills.” He defended the mandatory nature of the program, stating, “Citizenship brings with it obligations as well as rights. Being British is about more than just the queue you join at passport control.”

The Conservative Party also argued that National Service could reduce crime, citing research suggesting that volunteering increases social responsibility. The plan’s specifics would be determined by a new Royal Commission, which would explore potential non-criminal sanctions for those who refuse to participate and establish exemption criteria.

National Service was originally introduced in the UK in 1949, requiring physically fit males aged 17 to 21 to serve in the armed forces for 18 months, later extended to two years. It was phased out in 1960, with the last conscripts discharged in 1963.

The proposed program is estimated to cost £2.5 billion annually by 2029/30, funded through reallocations from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund and measures to combat tax avoidance and evasion.

In response, a Labour Party spokesperson criticized the announcement as “desperate,” arguing, “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.”

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