Tobias Ellwood defends mandatory National Service policy pledge as world 'has 1930s feel' to it

26 May 2024, 10:14

Tobias Ellwood MP has defended the new policy idea
Tobias Ellwood MP has defended the new policy idea. Picture: Alamy/Getty

By Flaminia Luck

Tobias Ellwood, the former Chair of the Defence Select Committee and Conservative MP for Bournemouth East, has defended Rishi Sunak's latest pledge to bring in mandatory National Service for 18-year-olds.

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On Saturday, the Prime Minister confirmed all 18-year-olds will be made to enrol in a year-long military placement or spend one weekend each month volunteering under the plan should the Conservative win the upcoming General Election.

Mr Sunak said he wanted the scheme to instill a "shared sense of purpose” in youngsters.

Mr Ellwood defended the policy idea to Paul Brand on LBC saying there's a "1930s feel to the world right now".

Tory MP asked: 'Why are we putting the burden on younger people to volunteer?'

On Sunday morning, he told LBC the current world is not dissimilar to the 1930s.

"Reintroducing some form of National Service civilian and military, in addition to the 2.5 GDP target for defence is really welcome but is also a sober recognition, indeed a powerful reminder of the increasingly grim chapter in our history that we've entered, that it is not dissimilar to the late 1930s.

"We've rising authoritarianism, state re-arming, new axis of power developing, with no international alliance, no global institutions, such as the United Nations in control of where global politics is sliding.

"So we must prepare today and vastly improve our national resilience, it's simply not possible to retain our standing armed force at such high readiness, so there must be an all society approach."

Read more: RAF pilot dead in Spitfire airshow crash as politicians and royals pay tribute to unnamed airman

Rishi Sunak made the pledge on Saturday during the fourth day of the campaign
Rishi Sunak made the pledge on Saturday during the fourth day of the campaign. Picture: Getty

Mr Sunak told The Sunday Telegraph: “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.

“I have a clear plan to address this and secure our future. I will bring in a new version of National Service to create a shared sense of purpose among our young people and a renewed sense of pride in our country.

“This new, mandatory National Service will provide life-changing opportunities for our young people, offering them the chance to learn real-world skills, do new things and contribute to their community and our country.”

A Labour Party spokesperson said the announcement was "another desperate £2.5 billion unfunded commitment from a Tory Party which already crashed the economy, sending mortgages rocketing, and now they’re spoiling for more.

“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 spokesperson said.

Read More: Labour and Tories clash on energy measures and how often leaders should debate

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