• Monday, June 24, 2024


Sunak plays football on campaign trail while unease prevails over his national service plan

The British PM interacted with teenage volunteers chipping in as referees on the pitch as he spoke in favour of his new national service policy during the campaign in Chesham in Buckinghamshire.

UK PM Rishi Sunak (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

By: Shubham Ghosh

PRIME MINISTER Rishi Sunak on Monday (27) tried a light campaign for the upcoming general election on July 4 by playing football with minors aged between seven and 15 in Chesham in Buckinghamshire.

The Conservative leader, who called a snap election last week surprising many since his own party is trailing the opposition Labour in pre-poll surveys, was later handed the trophy that Chesham United men’s side clinched by topping the Southern League Premier South. He also posed for pictures.

The 44-year-old Sunak, who is the first British premier of Indian origin, also interacted with teenage volunteers chipping in as referees on the pitch as he spoke in favour of his new national service policy, which according to Sunak, would encourage  a “shared sense of purpose among our young people and a renewed sense of pride in our country”.

Read: You can now trust Labour: Keir Starmer

While it is different from conscription where people are legally required to join the army for a period, it would ask people to complete a community programme over a year or enrol in a year-long military training scheme, on turning 18.

But it would compel people by law to complete a community programme over a 12-month period, or enrol in a year-long military training scheme, when they turn 18.

However, the plan has faced a ministerial backlash while the ruling Tories were reportedly in a state of confusion.

Read: Akshata Murty gets proactive as Sunak hits campaign trail

One of the serving ministers claimed that he was not consulted on the £2.5 billion policy and senior members of the Conservative Party were facing queries over whether parents would fined if their adult children did not participate in the programme.

The plan is due to be in place by 2029-30 provided Sunak wins this election.

In Buckinghamshire, Sunak told reporters during a campaign that the “modern form” of national service under his government’s plan will mean that young people are equipped with skills and provided with opportunities that would benefit them in their life.

He also said that it would foster a culture of service which would make the British society more cohesive and boost the country’s security and resilience in an uncertain and dangerous world.

Northern Ireland minister and Wycombe MP Steve Baker, however, was unhappy over the way the policy had been “sprung” on Tory candidates, Bucks Free Press reported.

According to him, had it been a government policy instead of a Tory proposal, he would have a say, keeping in mind the particular sensitives around military service in Northern Ireland.

Baker alleged the proposal was developed by a political adviser or advisers and sprung on candidates, some of whom are relevant ministers, the report added.

“History has proven time and time again that liberty under law – not compulsion and planning – is the surest road to peace and prosperity,” he was quoted as saying.

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