Home » Every Briton have to serve a year in armed forces? PM Rishi Sunak has this plan

Every Briton have to serve a year in armed forces? PM Rishi Sunak has this plan

The Conservative party plans to reintroduce a national service requirement for every 18-year-old in Britain by the end of the upcoming Parliament, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced as part of his campaign messaging ahead of the July election.

UK Conservatives propose mandatory national service for 18-year-olds.(REUTERS)

Rishi Sunak said the service is needed to provide young people with better opportunities and experiences. “This is a great country but generations of young people have not had the opportunities or experience they deserve and there are forces trying to divide our society in this increasingly uncertain world,” he said in a statement.

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What is the proposal?

Under the proposal, 18-year-olds would have to choose between a full-time placement in the armed forces or cyber defence for a year, or volunteering in their community for the equivalent of one weekend per month for a year.

The Tories plan to establish a Royal Commission to facilitate the pilot programme applications starting in September 2025. They intend to implement the mandate through a new National Service Act by the end of the subsequent parliament.

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Which countries have mandatory national service programmes?

This proposal marks a significant shift in policy, as the UK would join countries like Israel, South Korea, and Singapore with mandatory national service programmes. The UK last had such a requirement in the post-World War II era, discontinuing it in the 1960s.

While Sunak seeks to present a fresh agenda ahead of the election, passing the proposal would depend on winning the general election scheduled on July 4 and facing debate in parliament.

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‘Unfunded commitment,’ criticises Labour party leaders

The UK Army has seen a reduction in personnel over the past decade, from around 1,10,000 in 2012 to 85,000 in 2023.

The proposal is expected to cost £2.5 billion annually by 2030. The Tories aim to cover £1 billion through tax crackdowns and £1.5 billion from existing funds.

Labour criticised the proposal, labeling it as another unfunded commitment from the Tories.

(Inputs from Bloomberg)