UK’s Sunak promises mandatory national service for 18-year-olds if elected | Politics news

The ruling Conservative Party said it would reinstate national service if it wins the general election on July 4.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has announced that 18-year-olds will have to perform mandatory national service if the Conservative Party returns to power in the UK election scheduled for 4 July.

Sunak said on Saturday that the UK had “generations of young people who have not had the opportunities they deserve” and that the measure would help unite society in an “increasingly uncertain world”.

The party said the Prime Minister’s plan would include giving young people the choice between working full-time in the armed forces for 12 months or taking one weekend a month for a year to volunteer in their community.

The announcement came as the Conservatives prepare to hold elections, increasing their attacks on the opposition Labor Party.


The United Kingdom carried out National Service between 1947 and 1960, with men aged between 17 and 21 years serving in the armed forces for 18 months. The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) reported that the size of the British Army decreased from 100,000 in 2010 to approximately 73,000 as of January 2024.

The Conservative Party said a placement with the armed forces would help teenagers “learn and participate in logistics, cyber security, procurement or civilian response operations.”

The community service option entails helping local firefighters, police and the UK’s National Health Service, as well as charities that address loneliness in elderly and isolated people. The BBC reported that the program would cost about 2.5 billion pounds ($3.2 billion) annually.

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A royal commission will be established, including experts from the military and civil society, to design the national service programme.

The first pilot application for the program is scheduled to open in September 2025. The Conservatives will then introduce a National Service Act to make the measures mandatory by the end of the next parliamentary session.


The Guardian reported that the Conservatives insisted that the scheme did not amount to conscription.

“This new compulsory national service will provide life-changing opportunities for our young people, giving them the opportunity to learn real-world skills, do new things and contribute to their community and our country,” Sunak said.

“The consequences of uncertainty are clear. Not having a plan means a more dangerous world. You, your family and our country are all at risk if Labor wins.”

Labor described the announcement as “another desperate unfunded commitment” and said Foreign Secretary David Cameron had introduced a similar scheme – the National Citizens Service – when he was prime minister.

A Labor spokesman said: “This is not a plan – it is a review that could cost billions and is only necessary because the Conservatives have hollowed out the armed forces to their smallest size since Napoleon.”

Britain is fed up with Tories who are bankrupt of ideas and have no plans to end 14 years of chaos. “It is time to turn the page and rebuild Britain with Labour.”

Many European countries, including Sweden, Norway and Denmark, already have some form of conscription for their armed forces.

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