Sunak reveals his daughters are 'excited' to do National Service - certainly more than 'learning maths until 18'

19 June 2024, 08:49 | Updated: 19 June 2024, 09:14

Rishi Sunak has said his daughters are 'excited' to do national service
Rishi Sunak has said his daughters are 'excited' to do national service. Picture: Alamy

By Will Conroy

Rishi Sunak has said his daughters are "excited" to do national service, as he took calls on LBC with Nick Ferrari.

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Soon after calling the general election on 22 May, the Prime Minister announced that a future Conservative government would bring back mandatory national service.

Under the initial plans, people would be compelled by law to complete a community programme over 12 months or enrol in a year-long military training scheme, when they turn 18.

The PM defends his plan to introduce national service

When asked by a 17-year-old caller what would be gained from national service, Mr Sunak said he is “excited” for his two daughters to do the scheme.

He said: “I’ve got two girls who are a bit younger than you and I'm excited for them to do national service.”

He later added: “They are more excited about that than when I announced maths to 18, I can tell you that.”

Rishi Sunak's daughters are 11 and 12
Rishi Sunak's daughters are 11 and 12. Picture: Alamy

Mr Sunak said his daughters Krishna and Anoushka, who are 12 and 11, have had a “debate” over whether they would choose to enrol in the community programme or military scheme.

He said they are choosing differently at the moment while emphasising the choices that people have.

The Conservative party has since adjusted the plan with Defence Secretary Grant Shapps saying the military aspect of the plan will see 18-year-olds take placements in the armed forces for just 25 days per year.

This comment came a day after the election manifesto promised a “year-long full-time placement in the armed forces or cyber defence”.

Read more: Tories water down key National Service plan a day after manifesto launch

Read more: James Cleverly says National Service is 'compulsory' but those who refuse will not receive 'criminal sanctions'

Labour frontbencher Jonathan Ashworth, said Mr Shapps had “completely blown up” the Prime Minster’s flagship manifesto commitment.

He said: “This is what happens when you have a Conservative Party making up policy as it goes along, and working out how much their pledges will cost the taxpayer after they’ve already been announced.

“It is a symbol of the utter desperation at the heart of this Conservative campaign, and the chaos at the heart of their government.”

Grant Shapps said military placements will be for just 25 days per year
Grant Shapps said military placements will be for just 25 days per year. Picture: Alamy

The proposal received significant criticism including from the former head of the Royal Navy, Admiral Lord West, who told the Guardian the idea is “bonkers”.

He added that it would deplete the defence budget at a time when it needs investment.

Mr Sunak described an interaction he recently had in which he met someone in their 20s who had enjoyed a positive experience volunteering with St John’s Ambulance.

He said: “That person had come from not an easy background and they were saying being able to be part of something and contribute to something in their community actually helped changed their lives and gave them a sense of purpose and identity.

“I think service can do that for you, as well as learning a really practical set of skills that have helped them and allowed them to help other people."

Home Secretary James Cleverly previously defended the idea to Lewis Goodall on LBC on Sunday and said he hopes the scheme will help fix social fragmentation.

He added the service will be compulsory, saying: "We will look at what the appropriate response will be. There's not going to be a criminal sanction for this.

"The same way people are compelled to be in education or training between 16 and 18," he said.

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