Will young people go to jail for refusing to do 'mandatory' national service?

Will young people go to jail for refusing to do 'mandatory' national service?
Rishi Sunak justifies introducing National Service: 'Democratic values are under threat'
Rishi Sunak

Home Secretary James Cleverly has said that young people will not be sent to jail for refusing to do Conservatives’ proposed “mandatory” national service.

Rishi Sunak recently announced plans to bring back "mandatory" national service if he wins the upcoming general election.

The new policy would see 18-year-olds choose between a full-time military placement in the Armed Forces or the UK’s cyber defences for 12 months or volunteer within the community for one weekend per month for a year.

"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," Sunak told The Sunday Telegraph.

The NHS, police and fire services, along with charities that support elderly people are some of the organisations where youngsters can volunteer, while alternatively, 30,000 military placements would be available to apply for where those who sign up would reside in army barracks.

The UK's previous mandatory national service scheme ended in 1960 after being introduced by Clement Attlee’s Labour government in 1947, following World War II where men aged between 17 and 21 had to serve in the armed forces for 18 months.

Following the announcement, the home secretary appeared on Sky News and said there would be no criminal sanction for teenagers who refuse and his party would ensure the policy "fits with different people’s attitudes and aspirations."

"There’s going to be no criminal sanction. There’s no one going to jail over this," Cleverly told Sky News’ Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips.

"This is about dealing with what we know to be the case, which is social fragmentation. Too many young people live in a bubble within their own communities. They don’t mix with people of different religions, they don’t mix with different viewpoints."

Meanwhile, Labour has criticised the policy as "desperate and unfunded."

"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," the party said. "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 ...rebuild Britain with Labour."

Elsewhere, here are 21 of the best memes in response to Rishi Sunak vowing to bring back national service.

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