Boris Johnson SACKS Johnny Mercer as Veterans Minister ‘by text’ after row over treatment of soldiers who served in Northern Ireland
- Veterans minister Johnny Mercer resigned tonight in a row over Northern Ireland
- Mr Mercer was angry Northern Ireland veterans are not covered by a new law
- The new law only covers soldiers accused of crimes in Iraq or Afghanistan
- Mr Mercer wanted Northern Ireland veterans protected from criminal probes
Prime Minister Boris Johnson sacked his veterans minister Johnny Mercer in a row over the treatment of British soldiers who served in Northern Ireland.
In a statement released shortly after 7pm, the spokeswoman said: ‘This evening the Prime Minister has accepted the resignation of Johnny Mercer as Minister for Defence People and Veterans.
‘He thanks Johnny Mercer for his service as a Government Minister since 2019.’
However, in a tweet accompanied by the resignation letter, Mr Mercer wrote: ‘I’m sorry to have been relieved of my responsibilities in Government tonight.’
In the letter, Mr Mercer said: ‘It is with a heavy heart that I am forced to offer you my resignation from your Government.’
Johnny Mercer, pictured, has resigned this evening from Government in a row over the treatment of veterans accused of crimes in Northern Ireland
Mr Mercer published his resignation letter which revealed he was ‘forced’ to leave Government
Mr Mercer said he will lobby on behalf of Northern Ireland veterans in Parliament, having said he made promises to those troops in Mr Johnson’s name
10 Downing Street claimed Mr Mercer resigned, but the former veterans minister said he was ‘relieved of my responsibilities in Government
The former British Army officer was reported to be unhappy about a lack of progress in dealing with former personnel being investigated for killings during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
He accused Mr Johnson’s government of ‘abandoning’ veterans who served in Northern Ireland.
He wrote: ‘I made promises on your behalf that we would not leave them behind and would walk through simultaneous legislation from them. No discernible efforts have been made to do so, and I can see no prospect of this changing.
‘I have no choice but to leave Government and campaign for them in Parliament.’
He had been heavily involved in the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill, which is going through its final stages in Parliament.
The legislation was developed in response to legal claims made after operations in Iraq and Afghanistan but it does not cover incidents in Northern Ireland.
The Telegraph reported that Mr Mercer had become increasingly frustrated about the lack of progress on the Northern Ireland issue.
Lords amendments to the Bill will be considered in the Commons on Wednesday.
Mr Mercer appeared in the House of Commons chamber on Tuesday evening in order to reply on behalf of the Government to the adjournment debate.