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Sunak announces national service policy

National service was abolished in the UK in 1960, but political figures have pointed out the need to prepare for potential wars. Rishi Sunak announced this week that he would re-introduce national service for 18-year-olds if he wins the upcoming election. This would mean that 18-year-olds would have a compulsory 12-month placement in the army or partaking in community work. Sunak spoke about how the world is “more dangerous and challenging than it has been in decades” and that “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”. Sunak also stated that the scheme would cost £2.5 billion a year but would provide life-changing opportunities for young people by developing important skills.

Public response to this has been mixed, with only 10% of 18–24-year-olds backing compulsory military service compared to 46% among 65+ year-olds. The Labour Party have responded with a pledge to give 16- and 17-year-olds the right to vote if Keir Starmer wins the election, arguing that if you can work, pay tax and serve in your armed forces, then “you ought to be able to vote”.

 

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Some of the British headlines from the past week are:

 

Net migration falls in the UK

Data released by the Office for National Statistics revealed that net migration to the UK fell by 10% to 685,000 in 2023. The number of people coming to the UK to work also leapfrogged those coming to study in universities. The data also showed that the peak of migration in 2022 was even higher than previously thought, with 764,000 coming in instead of previous estimates of 740,000. ONS also stated that migration was predominantly driven by work-related arrivals from outside the EU, which almost doubled to 423,000 in 2023.

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Young Advisory Committee