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British PM threatens teens with sanctions for refusing national service

Rishi Sunak says young people may lose access to finance or drivers’ licenses if the scheme is reintroduced

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has warned that young people in Britain could face restrictions if they refuse to do mandatory national service, which would be reintroduced if the Conservative Party remains in power after upcoming general elections.  

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 was previously introduced during WWI and WWII, but 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 “all sorts of things,” including restrictions on access to financial services as well as 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.

June 21, 2024 at 07:16PM

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