No Jail For 18-Year-Olds Who Refuse National Service, Says James Cleverly

James Cleverly
James Cleverly Sky News

James Cleverly has said 18-year-olds would not be sent to jail if they refused to take part in the Conservative’s national service plan.

Rishi Sunak has announced if he wins the election he will introduce the “mandatory” new scheme.

Under the policy, every 18-year-old would have to either join the military or spend one weekend a month carrying out a community service.

Labour has ridiculed the idea as nothing more than a “headline-grabbing gimmick”.

In an interview with Sky News’ Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips programme, Cleverly defended the policy.

“We want to build a society where people mix with people outside their own communities, mix with people from different backgrounds, different religions, different income levels,” he said.

“The bulk of this is about helping build a cohesive society where people mix outside their bubble.”

Asked what the punishment would be for people who refused, the home secretary added: “There’s going to be no criminal sanctions, nobody’s going to jail over this.”

The Tories have said their national service programme will cost £2.5 billion a year by 2029/2030.

A Labour Party spokesperson said: “This is another desperate £2.5 billion unfunded commitment from a Tory Party which already crashed the economy, sending mortgages rocketing, and now they’re spoiling for more.

“This is not a plan – it’s a review which could cost billions and is only needed because the Tories hollowed out the Armed Forces to their smallest size since Napoleon.

“Britain has had enough of the Conservatives, who are bankrupt of ideas, and have no plans to end 14 years of chaos. It’s time to turn the page and rebuild Britain with Labour.”