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British PM Proposes Mandatory National Service For 18-Year-Olds

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has unveiled his first major policy ahead of the upcoming election, pitching a return to mandatory national service for 18-year-olds. 

Under the proposed plan, young Britons would be required to either join the military full-time for 12 months or volunteer 25 days a year in community service roles such as fire and rescue, police, the National Health Service (NHS), or charities. 

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Mr Sunak said the plan will foster a “national spirit” and provide valuable skills and experiences for young people.

“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,” Mr Sunak said.

“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,” he said.

He argued that the plan would help bridge societal divides and help reduce youth from “lives of unemployment and crime”.

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However, the initiative, estimated to cost around £2.5 billion, has faced immediate backlash from opposition parties. 

A Labour Party spokesperson dismissed the proposal as “another desperate £2.5 billion unfunded commitment” and accused the Conservative Party of previously “crashing the economy, sending mortgages rocketing.”

“This is not a plan – it’s a review which could cost billions and is only needed because the Tories (Conservatives) hollowed out the armed forces to their smallest size since Napoleon,” the spokesperson said.

The UK’s last national service program ran from 1947 to 1960, requiring men aged 17 to 21 to serve in the military for 18 months. 

In Australia, the government made the decision to end National Service on November 24, 1959.

All national servicemen were officially discharged from their obligations on June 30, 1960, with honour.

Several European countries, including Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Denmark, maintain forms of mandatory national service.

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