Wiltshire Tory MP rejected national service days before Rishi Sunak’s policy was revealed

CONSERVATIVE party hopeful for South West Wiltshire, Andrew Murrison, took centre stage in the general election campaign over the weekend – after an answer he gave to a fellow MP’s question seemed to directly contradict a flagship policy announcement by the Prime Minister.

On Sunday (May 26), Rishi Sunak unveiled a plan to reintroduce a form of national service, should the Conservatives win the July 4 general election.

The plan would see young people aged 18 would be forced to take part in some sort of community activity, or military service, under the plans.

A royal commission would be set up to compile details of the scheme, the party said, should the Tories top the polls in July.

However, the announcement was met with scepticism in some quarters, with Labour leader Siir Keir Starmer branding the policy a move made in “desperation”.

Daisy Cooper, the Lib Dem deputy leader, said the “Conservatives want to fine parents whose children don’t take part in their hare-brained scheme”.

It also emerged that just days before the policy was unveiled, then-Tory defence minister Mr Murrison had answered a written question from fellow Tory MP, Mark Pritchard, regarding national service – and his answer raised some eyebrows over the Conservative policy announced days later.

READ MORE: General election 2024: Runners and riders, polls and betting odds ahead of poll 

In a question dated May 15, Mr Pritchard wrote: “To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, whether he has made an assessment of the potential impact of the reintroduction of national service on national security.”

And in his answer – dated May 23 – Dr Murrison, who has represented South West Wiltshire since 2010, said there were “no plans” to reintroduce national service, and went on to outline reasons why.

Such a move “could damage morale, recruitment and retention”, he said, and would “consume professional military and naval resources”.

“The Government has no current plans to reintroduce National Service,” Dr Murrison said in his answer.

“Since 1963, when the last national servicemen were discharged, it has been the policy of successive Governments that the best way of providing for the defence of our country is by maintaining professional Armed Forces staffed by volunteers.

Andrew Murrison hit the headlines over the weekend. Picture: UK Parliament

Andrew Murrison hit the headlines over the weekend. Picture: UK Parliament

“The demanding, increasingly technical, nature of defence today is such that we require highly trained, professional men and women in our Regular and Reserve Armed Forces, fully committed to giving their best in defending our country and its allies.

“If potentially unwilling National Service recruits were to be obliged to serve alongside the professional men and women of our Armed Forces, it could damage morale, recruitment and retention and would consume professional military and naval resources

“If, on the other hand, National Service recruits were kept in separate units, it would be difficult to find a proper and meaningful role for them, potentially harming motivation and discipline.

“For all these reasons, there are no current plans for the restoration of any form of National Service.”

However, Mr Sunak has continued to back the proposal.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

I am the editor in chief of Blackmore Vale media, which includes the New Blackmore Vale, New Stour & Avon, Salisbury & Avon Gazette and the Purbeck Gazette, having been a reporter for some 20 years. In my spare time, I am a festival lover, with a particular focus on Glastonbury. I live in Somerset with my wife and two children.