National Service plans addressed as James Cleverly insists no-one will go to jail | Politics | News

James Cleverly insisted no one will be sent to jail for refusing to take part in mandatory national service.

The Home Secretary said there would be no criminal sanctions for young people if they defied the plans under a Conservative government.

In the first major policy announcement ahead of the general election, Rishi Sunak pledged to get 18-year-olds to either join the military for 12 months or do „volunteer“ work one weekend a month for a year.

But it has prompted questions over whether teenagers would be punished if they do not take part.

Mr Cleverly told Sky News’s Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips programme: „There’s going to be no criminal sanction for this. No one is going to jail over this.

„What we have seen from the other countries that have got similar schemes to this firstly there is actually very widescale take up, acceptance and enthusiasm.

„We want to make this compelling, we are going to compel people to do it.

„But also we want to make sure that it fits with different people’s aptitudes and aspirations.“

He added: „This is about dealing with what we know to be the case, which is social fragmentation.

„Too many young people live in a bubble within their own communities. They don’t mix with people of different religions, they don’t mix with different viewpoints.“

The Prime Minister said the policy would help unite society in an „increasingly uncertain world“ and give young people a „shared sense of purpose“.

Volunteering could include helping local fire, police and NHS services as well as charities tackling loneliness and supporting elderly, isolated people.

Mr Sunak said: „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 model 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.“

But Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary Liz Kendall said the Conservatives‚ national service announcement was a „gimmick“.

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