Rish Sunak's National Service plan branded "a shameless stunt from a dying government" by Derry MP

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SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MP has branded a Tory plan to reintroduce mandatory national service in the British Military or ‘mandatory volunteering’ for 18 year olds “a shameless stunt from a dying government”.

Foyle MP Mr Eastwood said that the scheme would never work in Northern Ireland and questioned why billions in taxpayers money should fund it while communities here suffer significant public spending cuts.

His comments follow the shock announcement by British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak that the Conservatives would introduce mandatory conscription for young people to spend a year undertaking either military or community service.

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The controversial move came just days after another surprise announcement by the Tory party leader that the general election will be held sommer than expected on July 4.

Derry MP Colum Eastwood has sharply criticsed British Prime Minister Rish Sunak's conscription plan.Derry MP Colum Eastwood has sharply criticsed British Prime Minister Rish Sunak's conscription plan.
Derry MP Colum Eastwood has sharply criticsed British Prime Minister Rish Sunak's conscription plan.

Confirming his new manifesto pledge, Mr Sunak said: “We have generations of young people who don’t have the opportunities they deserve. Britain today faces a future that is more dangerous and more divided. There is no doubt that are democratic values are under threat.

"That is why we will introduce a bold new model of national service for 18-year-olds, to be spent either in a competitive, full-time military commission for 12 months or with one weekend per month volunteering in roles within the community like delivering prescriptions and food to infirm people or in search and rescue.

"This ambition benefits our country and young people alike,” he claimed, adding that the new plan “will ensure new generations and our country meet the challenges of the uncertain world.”

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In response, Derry MP Colum Eastwood said the new policy platform was “unserious, unwanted and unworkable”.

"How does Rishi Sunak think he will force kids in Northern Ireland to perform national service in the British Army or undertake ‘mandatory volunteering’ - a total contradiction in terms?” Mr Eastwood asked.

“Public services are on their knees and public sector workers in our health service and schools are still out on strike fighting for a fair pay deal. How can the British Government afford at least £2.5bn for this nonsense but not stump up the cash for junior doctors or classroom assistants or school bus drivers? It’s absolutely perverse and it’s all about winning back voters in England who have abandoned the Conservatives.”

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