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Rishi Sunak pledges to cut price of railcard in pitch to veterans on D-Day anniversary | Politics News

Rishi Sunak has pledged to cut rail fares for veterans and “enshrine their rights in law” in an election offering on the 80th anniversary of D-Day.

The prime minister has announced a raft of measures aimed at making the UK “the best place in the world” to have served in the armed forces.

This includes reducing the price of the Veterans Railcard from £30 per year to £21, bringing it in line with how much serving personnel pay for the HM Forces Railcard.

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The Tories also want to extend the existing national insurance relief for employers who hire ex-military members, in a move the party said will incentivise companies to continue offering jobs to veterans.

But Labour said the Tory record on veterans is “shameful” and their election plans “mean no change”.

The measures will be covered by a new Veterans Bill, which will also ensure military qualifications have an equal standing with civilian qualifications in law for the first time.

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Plans for this legislation had already been announced by the government last October but the early general election put it on hold.

Mr Sunak said: “The heroes who have put their lives on the line to protect our freedoms represent the very best of our country.

“That’s why we have prioritised making the UK the best place in the world to be a veteran with our clear plan to give them the opportunities, aftercare and support they deserve to live prosperous, fulfilled lives.

“The choice at the election is clear – vote for the Conservatives for a dedicated veterans minister, veterans’ rights enshrined in law and more opportunities for veterans, or Labour who have no plan and would take us back to square one.”

The Prince of Wales, Grant Shapps, Rishi Sunak, Akshata Murty, Keir Starmer and David Cameron attend a commemorative event for the 80th anniversary of D-Day, in Portsmouth.
Pic: ReutersPic: Reuters
Sunak and Starmer attend a commemorative event alongside the royals. Pic: Reuters

Both main parties have seized on the theme of the week to pitch to veterans and the armed forces community as events for the 80th anniversary of D-Day take place.

D-Day commemorates the military operation that began on 6 June 1944 to liberate Nazi-occupied northwest Europe.

On Wednesday, as commemorations began, Sir Keir Starmer pledged to legislate for a new armed forces tsar to represent the military and their families in the first King’s Speech if Labour wins the election.

Plans to fully enshrine in law the armed forces covenant, which is an existing government commitment to support the military community through a range of initiatives, have also been announced by the party.

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Sir Keir has been attempting to shift perceptions of Labour’s defence stance following the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn, a long-standing critic of NATO and Trident.

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Responding to the Conservatives’ veterans announcement, a Labour Party spokesperson said: “Veterans have had 14 years of the Conservatives promising a lot but delivering very little.

“The Conservatives haven’t passed a Veterans Bill since 2010. They’ve only issued veteran ID cards to one in 10 eligible veterans and they’ve overseen a rise in veteran homelessness.

“The Tory record on veterans is a shameful failure and their election plans mean no change for veterans. It’s time for change with Labour.

“We will improve the everyday lives of our veterans by putting the Armed Forces Covenant fully into law, protect and improve the Office of Veterans’ Affairs, and scrap visa fees for non-UK veterans who have served four years and their dependents.”

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