Sunak To Bring Back National Service if His Party Wins Election

UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced his intention to reintroduce mandatory national service if his Conservative Party wins the general election.

The proposal includes giving 18-year-olds the option to either serve in the military full-time or engage in community service by volunteering one weekend each month.

A Royal Commission would be established by the party to finalize the specifics, with plans to start enrolling teenagers by September 2025, at an annual cost of approximately £2.5 billion.

The initiative offers young adults the opportunity to commit to a full-year, full-time placement either in the armed forces or in UK cyber defense roles, where they would gain skills in logistics, cyber security, procurement, or civil response operations.

Alternatively, they could opt to volunteer for 25 days a year, assisting in community efforts through organizations like the fire service, police, or NHS.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak expressed his belief that reinstating compulsory service across the UK would cultivate the national unity reminiscent of the pandemic period.

Sunak stated, “We are a remarkable nation, yet recent generations of young people lack the necessary opportunities and experiences amidst societal divisions in this volatile world.”

“My strategy is designed to counter these challenges and fortify our future, instituting a modern form of National Service to instill a collective purpose and national pride among our youth.”

He emphasized that this policy would enable young people to acquire practical skills, explore new experiences, and actively contribute to both their local communities and the nation at large.

The Conservative Party argues that this policy would provide meaningful assistance to young individuals who are either unemployed or not engaged in education.

It will also reduce their disproportionate representation within the criminal justice system by steering them away from paths leading to unemployment or criminal activities.

According to the party, national service could offer significant job experience and spark interest in careers within the healthcare, public service, charity sectors, or military service.

A Labour Party spokesperson criticized the plan as “a reckless £2.5 billion pledge without funding, from a Conservative Party responsible for economic downturns and skyrocketing mortgage rates, now risking further harm.”

They dismissed the initiative as merely a costly review necessitated by the Conservatives’ severe reductions in armed forces personnel since the Napoleonic wars.

Liberal Democrat defense spokesperson, MP Richard Foord, accused the Conservatives of undermining national defense by significantly reducing troop numbers.

Foord remarked, “Rather than restoring the strength of our world-renowned professional armed forces, the Conservatives continue to propose cuts, weakening the Army further.”

National service was initially implemented in 1947 by Clement Attlee’s Labour government after World War II, requiring men aged 17 to 21 to serve in the military for 18 months, concluding in 1960.

In 2015, Prince Harry voiced his support for reintroducing national service, noting the Army’s significant impact on his life.

Several European nations, including Sweden, Norway, and Denmark, maintain some form of military conscription.

Conscription mandates a brief period of military service for both young men and women, ensuring that a portion of the populace receives basic military training and can be mobilized into reserve units in case of war.

The British Army has experienced cuts, reducing its size from over 100,000 in 2010 to approximately 73,000 by January 2024.