Ed Davey 'alarmed' by 'pathetic' National Service plan as he slams 'out of touch' Tories

26 May 2024, 11:59

Sir Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats, has slammed the proposal
Sir Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats, has slammed the proposal. Picture: Alamy

By Charlie Duffield

Sir Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats has told LBC that the Conservatives' first policy pledge of the election campaign of a new form of mandatory National Service for 18-year-olds is "pathetic".

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The prime minister has unveiled a plan that would see 18-year-olds given the choice of a full-time military placement for 12 months, or a scheme to volunteer for one weekend a month for a year.

Speaking to Lewis Goodall on LBC on Sunday about the announcement, the MP for Kingston and Surbiton, said: "I was slightly amused but alarmed by it really, here's a policy that on their figures, which I think underestimate the cost, costs £2.5bn a year and at the same time they're cutting our army.

"Troop numbers if the Tories have their way will go down to make our British army smaller than at any time since the Napoleonic wars, how dreadful is that when we have a war on mainland Europe.

"This is quite a pathetic attempt, desperate attempt, from Conservatives to grab a headline, the vast majority of people are going to say come on you're completely out of touch."

Ed Davey on the Lib Dems oppose mandatory national service

When speaking about targeting key Tory seats and regarding the possibility of a coalition with Labour, he went on to say: "Our task this election is to beat lots of Conservative MPs and in many parts of the country, we are the only party to do that.

"Mr Starmer I don't know him really well, the only time I've really met him at any length was during state events, I sat next to him during the coronation, which was really nice and we had a good chat, he wanted to talk about Arsenal".

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Then when speaking about the Horizon IT scandal, he said: "What the whole inquiry has shown is the importance of the inquiry, we need to hold people to account who perpetuated this conspiracy, these lies, and did these appalling things, which have blighted the lives of hundreds of sub postmasters and their family.

"This is the biggest miscarriage of justice, people need to be held to account, that's why I campaigned for the inquiry.

"Once the whistleblower had given the evidence and come forward and we'd seen the High Court in 2019, it was obvious we needed a public inquiry to hold people to account, I support that, I will give my evidence in due course."