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Monday, July 15, 2024

Rishi Sunak Proposes Mandatory National Service

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak introduces a controversial proposal for mandatory national service in the UK, aiming to enhance national spirit and provide skills through military or community service, amid political opposition and financial concerns.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has followed up on his controversial election promise to introduce mandatory national service for UK teenagers with a warning that objectors could face significant restrictions.

The scheme, which would see youngsters volunteer with community groups or join the armed forces, was announced by Sunak last month. He argued that the measure would help revive the “national spirit” and provide “life-changing opportunities for our young people.” National service in the UK, previously introduced during WWI and WWII, was ended in 1960.

Speaking to the BBC on Friday, Sunak was asked about the possible consequences for people who decline to take part in the compulsory activity, which would extend to all 18-year-olds, male and female.

The prime minister suggested that possible sanctions for those avoiding service could include restrictions on access to financial services and driving licenses.

Under the scheme, British youths will be required either to join the military full-time for one year or volunteer one weekend per month at community organizations such as the police or the National Health Service (NHS).

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Sunak has insisted that the program would provide young people with “life-changing opportunities” and “real world skills” and would help create a “shared sense of purpose among our young people and a renewed sense of pride in our country.” A pilot version of the program is planned to be launched in September of next year if the Conservatives remain in power, and is expected to cost British taxpayers around £2.5 billion ($3.19 billion) a year.

According to the Daily Mail, the plan to reintroduce national service was drawn up by Sunak and his team in secret. The authors behind the 40-page document have argued that it is necessary to expand the UK’s armed forces in the face of “growing international threats posed by countries such as Russia and China.”

Sunak’s scheme has been heavily criticized by opposition parties.

“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,” a Labour spokesman stated last month. Other members of the opposition party have accused Sunak of trying to get 18-year-olds to fix the problems that the government has created.