Tory MP refuses to back PM until ‘persecution’ of servicemen ends

Tory MP refuses to back PM until ‘persecution’ of servicemen ends

Johnny Mercer has described the 'persecution' of military veterans as 'offensive'

Thursday, May 9, 2019

A Conservative MP has told Theresa May that he will not support her government until the “offensive” persecution of ex-servicemen and women ends.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, former Army officer Johnny Mercer called the historical  persecution of military veterans “abhorrent”.

The MP for Plymouth Moor View said he would not be voting for any of the government’s legislation – with the exception of Brexit – until ex-servicemen were promised protection from “being repeatedly persecuted”.

“As you know, the historical prosecution of our servicemen and women is a matter that is personally offensive to me. Many are my friends; and I am from their tribe," he wrote.

“These repeated investigations with no new evidence, the macabre spectacle of elderly veterans being dragged back to Northern Ireland to face those who seek to re-fight that conflict through other means, without any protection from the Government who sent them almost 50 years ago, is too much.”

Mr Mercer has campaigned against the pursuit of legacy cases, including officers from conflicts in Northern Irelands, Afghanistan and Iraq, since he became an MP in 2015.

He recently accused the Conservative whips office of contacting former Army friends in an attempt to dig up dirt on him.

Responding to Mr Mercer's letter, the Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "We owe a debt of gratitude to the heroism and bravery of our armed forces.

"The issue of prosecutions of veterans is one we take extremely seriously and the PM is fully aware of the strength of feeling on this, both in Parliament and among the public.

"In relation to Northern Ireland prosecutions, we have been clear the system to investigate the past needs to change to provide better outcomes for victims and survivors of the Troubles and to ensure members of our armed forces are not disproportionately affected.

"This is why we have consulted widely on the system. There are a very large number of responses to that consultation and we will be responding to those in due course."

Read more

LGBT personnel 'still suffer persecution' in the armed forces, says member of Royal Legion LGBTQ+ branch

Tory MP Johnny Mercer accuses deputy chief whip of 'blackmail'