Fact check: Plans to enforce National Service have not yet been developed

fact check: plans to enforce national service have not yet been developed

The Conservative manifesto makes clear a Royal Commission would be established to design the scheme (Gareth Fuller/PA)

The Liberal Democrats posted an image showing a declined contactless card payment to Instagram and X, formerly Twitter, on June 21.

It included a superimposed fake error message blaming the blocked payment on “Rishi Sunak and the Conservative Party”.

As a caption, both posts said: “Confirmed: Do his national service or Rishi Sunak will take your bank card, your driver’s licence and your future.”

Evaluation

The Conservative Party has announced a new model of national service as part of the election campaign, but there have been no specific measures released on enforcing the policy.

The example of driving licences was suggested by Mr Sunak on a special edition of the BBC’s Question Time, in which he also told host Fiona Bruce that this would not include the seizure of personal bank cards.

The facts

The Conservative manifesto mentions “mandatory National Service for all school leavers at 18” on page 4, clarifying later in the document that it would involve either volunteering for one weekend a month for a year or military service in “the armed forces or cyber defence”.

The Conservative manifesto makes clear that “a Royal Commission” would be established “to design” the scheme.

There have been no set decisions taken on the form of national service, let alone any legislation enshrining a system of incentives or disincentives for participation.

The question of incentivisation was raised by a member of the public during a special edition of Question Time shown on June 20.

Mr Sunak said that although military work “is optional”, doing some form of national service “will be compulsory”.

To enforce participation, Mr Sunak suggested there would be “a set of sanctions and incentives, and we will look at the models that are existing around Europe to get the appropriate mix – there’s a range of different options that exist … whether that’s looking at driving licences, other access to finance, all sorts of other things”.

Presenter Fiona Bruce asked if “access to finance” meant taking away the bank cards of people who refused to serve.

“No, no, there’s lots of different models,” said Mr Sunak, before repeating that the Royal Commission would be asked to recommend options before they could be implemented by the government.

The Liberal Democrats have been contacted for comment.

Links

Post by @LibDems on X (archived)

Post by @libdems on Instagram (archived)

The Conservative and Unionist Manifesto 2024 (archived page and PDF)

Question Time – 2024: Leaders’ Special on BBC iPlayer (archived clip)

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