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Sunak vows to bring back national service as Streeting aims to turn around the NHS

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Labour Party ‘leaks Rishi Sunak’s campaign diary’ in new ad attacking gaffes

Rishi Sunak has vowed to bring back national service for 18-year-olds to create a “renewed sense of pride in our country” if he wins the general election.

Under the mandatory scheme, teenagers would be given a choice between a full-time placement in the armed forces for 12 months or spending one weekend a month for a year volunteering in their community.

Labour branded the announcement “another desperate unfunded commitment”, which would cost an estimated £2.5bn each year, while armed forces veteran Justin Crump warned the “ill-thought through” plans would place an “enormous potential burden” on Britain’s military.

It comes as Wes Streeting warned striking doctors he would not meet their huge pay demands, and has vowed he would be “a shop steward for patients” as health secretary.

In an exclusive interview with The Independent, the shadow health secretary spoke of his plan to tackle of record waiting lists and the ongoing pay disputes, stating: “The NHS is not the envy of the world.”

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Ben Wallace’s favourite defence blogger exposes real cost of Sunak’s National Service plan

A former army reservist whose blog has been praised by ex-defence secretary Ben Wallace has ripped apart Rishi Sunak’s plans to reintroduce National Service.

His analysis of the Tory pledge to add 30,000 teenagers to the armed forces ranks every year has raised serious questions about the costs of the project.

Read the full article from political editor David Maddox here:

Holly Evans26 May 2024 20:50

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Labour could take up to 25 Scottish seats at Westminster

Scottish Labour is on course to win up to 25 UK parliamentary seats in the General Election, according to a poll.

The survey by More In Common showed the Labour Party started the election campaign with a five-point lead over the SNP.

Labour polled at 35%, with the SNP at 30%, the Conservatives at 17%, the Liberal Democrats at 10%, Reform UK at 4% and the Greens at 3%.

More in Common polled a nationally representative sample of 1,016 Scottish voters between May 22 and 24.

The survey found voters north of the border are more likely than Britain overall to say it is time for a change in leadership.

Holly Evans26 May 2024 20:35

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Nigel Farage confirms plans to stand as future candidate after General Election

Nigel Farage has insisted he still has “one more big card to play” and confirmed plans to stand as a future MP candidate, despite feeling “extremely disappointed” by Rishi Sunak’s decision to call a General Election on July 4.

The Reform UK honorary president said he could not campaign both nationally and for one constituency in the six-week timeframe, and suggested the Prime Minister had used “first mover advantage” with the announcement.

Mr Farage announced in a statement on Thursday that he would not stand as a party candidate in the election, but would “do my bit to help” in the UK campaign.

Read the full article here:

Holly Evans26 May 2024 20:10

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Rachel Reeves refuses to put timetable on defence spending

Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, asked when Labour would increase defence spending to 2.5% of GDP, told BBC One’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg: “We’re not going to put a timetable on that”.

“We’ve committed to do in government a strategic defence review to make sure that we’re getting value for money for all of our spending, including on defence where some of the procurement costs of purchasing new equipment have, frankly, got out of control under this Government.”

On whether Labour would scrap the two-child benefit cap, Ms Reeves said: “We’re not going to be able to put everything right that the Conservatives have done straight away, and our priority is reducing those NHS waiting lists.”

Holly Evans26 May 2024 19:50

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Refusal to mention EU makes this election most dishonest in modern times, warns Heseltine

Lord Heseltine has warned that the 2024 general election campaign “will be the most dishonest in modern times” because of the refusal of the main parties to debate the consequences of Brexit.

The former deputy prime minister, who fell out with the Conservatives over leaving the European Union, has written exclusively for The Independent explaining how the big issues in this general election – the economy, immigration and defence – all need to be debated in the context of the UK’s relationship with the EU.

Read the full article from our political editor here:

Holly Evans26 May 2024 19:30

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Can Euro 2024 really give Rishi Sunak a football bounce in the polls?

As Rishi Sunak stood in Downing Street last Wednesday, his voice barely audible over the music being blasted by protesters, and rain trickling down his face, it was no surprise that political commentators were left scratching their heads at what on earth had prompted the PM to call an election.

Some faintly positive economic news seemed an obvious, if scant, justification. Alternatively, some speculated that Rishi’s decision was prompted by his realisation that his plan to “stop the boats” by flying all of Europe’s dinghies to Rwanda was not going to work any time soon. Better, in that case, to cut his losses and go to the country before that failure became all too obvious.

Even more cynical observers wondered if a July election defeat might enable the PM to offer a speedy resignation and relocate to Silicon Valley in time for the new school term in America, in August. That all sounded a bit Meta to me.

Read the full article here:

Holly Evans26 May 2024 19:10

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Labour and Tories accuse each other of hiding from campaign trail

Labour and the Tories have accused each other of not appearing on the campaign trail.

On Saturday, Sir Keir Starmer’s party said Rishi Sunak was “hiding away in his mansion” after he returned to his constituency to meet local veterans.

On Sunday, the Conservatives made a counter-accusation after shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves, rather than Sir Keir, headed out to give a stump speech to Labour party members.

A senior Tory campaign source: “Yesterday the PM hit the campaign trail two hours before Sir Keir surfaced. Today there is no sign of Starmer whatsoever and we are just four days into the campaign.

“Campaigns are tough, tiring things and it’s understandable that he may be weary. But being Prime Minister is a 24/7 job which requires stamina.”

Holly Evans26 May 2024 18:50

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Lib Dems getting ‘best response for a generation’, claims Sir Ed Davey

The Lib Dems are getting the best response from voters “for a generation” ahead of the general election, Sir Ed Davey has claimed.

Speaking at the Lib Dems’ campaign launch in Cambridgeshire, Sir Ed told the PA news agency: “I’m not putting a ceiling on our ambitions. All I’m doing is talking to voters with my teams across the country, and the Liberal Democrats are getting a great response – a better response than we’ve had for a generation.

“I was elected back in 1997 and this feels to me quite a bit like that. I don’t worry about the other parties, I’m just excited about our job and excited about change.”

The Lib Dems are targeting traditionally Conservative heartlands in the so-called blue wall in southern England. Asked about Mr Hunt’s Godalming and Ash constituency, Sir Ed said he was “looking forward to that campaign” because the party had heard from many lifelong Tory voters.

He added: “I feel people like Jeremy Hunt have let them down, taken them for granted, assumed they’ll always vote Conservative.”

Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey joined supporters for a dog walk near Winchester on Saturday
Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey joined supporters for a dog walk near Winchester on Saturday ((Andrew Matthews/PA))

Andy Gregory26 May 2024 18:30

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Defence minister ruled out National Service over morale fears day after Rishi Sunak called election

Andrew Murrison signed off a written answer to fellow Tory MP Mark Pritchard which was published less than 24 hours after the prime minister had dramatically called a snap election.

The response from a seasoned minister has been highlighted after there was a furious backlash to the Tory plan revealed overnight to reintroduce National Service for school leavers.

Read the full article from our political editor David Maddox here:

Holly Evans26 May 2024 18:29

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Lib Dems back lowering voting age to 16 and hit out at ‘distraction’ of Tory national service policy

Sir Ed Davey said the Liberal Democrats agreed with allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to vote and described Tory plans for mandatory national service as a “distraction”.

The party leader told the PA news agency: “The Liberal Democrats have long supported votes from 16 and I’m glad other parties are now catching up with us. All I’d say is as political reforms go, it’s an important one but it’s quite small. We need to transform our politics.

“As for this distraction of a policy by the Conservatives on national service, the hypocrisy is just breath-taking. What we need is full-time, professional, highly trained troops. We’ve got the best army in the world and we should be backing it.”

Andy Gregory26 May 2024 18:11

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