UK’s Conservative Party Pitches For Mandatory National Service At 18

Rishi Sunak’s Conservative Party is lagging far behind Labour in the opinion polls.

British Chancellor Rishi Sunak said on Sunday that if his Conservative party wins the July 4 general election, he will introduce compulsory national service for 18-year-olds, including joining the military or community.

Mr Sunak said young people would be able to choose to volunteer one weekend a month for a year, or take up one of 30,000 places to spend a year in the army.

The announcement came after Labour leader Keir Starmer said on Saturday he supported allowing 16- and 17-year-olds the right to vote.

Opinion polls show Sunak’s Conservative party lagging far behind Labour and there has been little change in his fortunes since the Prime Minister’s surprise call for a general election last Wednesday.

“Britain now faces a more dangerous and divided future and there is no doubt that our democratic values ​​are under threat. That is why we are introducing a bold new model of national service for 18-year-olds,” Mr Sunak said in a statement.

The Conservatives said the proposals would be funded by diverting money from the UK’s Shared Prosperity Fund, a fund set up to crack down on tax evasion and avoidance and reduce economic disparities between regions.

Labour politicians ridiculed the announcement.

“The national service young people need is to vote for change on the Fourth of July,” said Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester.

Home Secretary James Cleverley told the broadcaster there would be no criminal penalty for missing compulsory service but people would be forced to do it, but gave no further details.

Asked by the BBC whether forcing adults to volunteer went against the Conservative party’s liberal traditions, Mr Cleverley said: “We force people to do things all the time.”

He gave the example of compulsory education and training for young people up to the age of 18.

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)