Rishi Sunak plans year of National Service for all teenagers - tell us what you think

Rishi Sunak has announced that if the Tories are re-elected in the July 4 General Election, eighteen year olds would be required to undertake a form of national service. The young individuals would have the option between a full-time placement in the armed forces for 12 months or spending one weekend a month for a year "volunteering," in their community, according to the Tories.

The Prime Minister stated that this policy would aid in uniting society in an "increasingly uncertain world" and provide young people with a "shared sense of purpose". In what seems to be an appeal to older voters, he mentioned that volunteering could involve assisting local fire, police and NHS services as well as charities working to combat loneliness and support elderly, isolated individuals.

However, opposition critics have dismissed these plans as not serious, with Labour claiming that the pledge will never materialise and is simply "another unfunded commitment". The Prime Minister is attempting to differentiate himself from Sir Keir Starmer's party on global security following his promise to increase defence spending to 2.5% of gross domestic product by 2030.

Escalating his attack on Saturday, Mr Sunak suggested that voters would be "at risk" with the Labour leader in Number 10 because Britain's enemies would realise that he "doesn't have a plan". The Tories said that teenagers who opt to sign up for a placement in the forces would "learn and take part in logistics, cyber security, procurement or civil response operations".

The Tories have laid out plans to start a "bold" national service programme, through the establishment of a Royal commission which will include expertise from military and civil society. The commission's key task is to map out a proposal for the pilot application by September 2025, reports Wales Online.

Tell us what you think about the proposal to being back National Service in the comments section below

Then, it aims to put forward a "National Service Act" to make these efforts mandatory by the end of the forthcoming Parliament, according to the party. Estimated annual costs for the programme are approximated at £2.5 billion by decade-end, with plans of uncovering around £1 billion of this budget by tackling tax evasion.

The remaining £1.5 billion is projected to be sourced from funds priorly allocated to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) - a support package for charity and community groups, the Conservatives confirmed. On the matter, the Prime Minister said: "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."

"I have a clear plan to address this and secure our future. I will bring in a new model of national service to create a shared sense of purpose among our young people and a renewed sense of pride in our country. This new, mandatory national service will provide life-changing opportunities for our young people, offering them the chance to learn real world skills, do new things and contribute to their community and our country."

Earlier on Saturday, the PM suggested a government led by Sir Keir would be marked by uncertainty and a "more dangerous world."

"The consequences of uncertainty are clear. No plan means a more dangerous world. You, your family and our country are all at risk if Labour win," he said.

Sir Keir's party pointed out that Lord David Cameron introduced a similar scheme the National Citizen Service when he was prime minister. Lord Cameron's announcement had no military component to it, instead encouraging youngsters to take part in activities such as outdoor education-style courses as part of his "Big Society" initiative.

A Labour spokesperson said: "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. Britain has had enough of the Conservatives, who are bankrupt of ideas, and have no plans to end 14 years of chaos. It's time to turn the page and rebuild Britain with Labour."

Liberal Democrat defence spokesperson Richard Foord MP criticised the government's approach to defence, stating: "If the Conservatives were serious about defence, they would reverse their damaging cuts to our world class professional armed forces, instead of decimating them, with swingeing cuts to the number of our regular service personnel."

"Our armed forces were once the envy of the world. This Conservative government has cut troop numbers and is planning more cuts to the size of the Army. This would be far better spent reversing Conservative cuts to troop numbers."

In a significant move ahead of the upcoming General Election on July 4, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has made his first major policy declaration. His announcement came after he called the election earlier this week during a rain-drenched address outside Downing Street.

Despite a challenging start to his campaign, which included several mishaps during a rapid tour of the four nations, Mr Sunak has expressed that he is "pumped up" and enjoying the campaign trail.

His itinerary featured a stop at Belfast's Titanic Quarter, which unfortunately drew unfavourable "sinking ship" analogies to his party's prospects, as well as a brewery visit in Wales where he committed a faux pas regarding the Euros. On Saturday, Mr Sunak was in his North Yorkshire constituency of Richmond meeting with local veterans, followed by campaigning with activists in south-west London.

It is believed that he will continue his campaign in the south east, while Rachel Reeves is set to deliver a key speech to party members in West Yorkshire on Sunday as part of Labour's efforts. In the meantime, Sir Ed Davey is scheduled to unveil the Liberal Democrats' campaign bus in a marginal constituency within the so-called Tory blue wall of southern England.

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