Britain’s inaugural Minister for Veterans has accused “cowards” in the Boris Johnson administration of stabbing Northern Ireland veterans in the back after he was ejected from the government.
Johnny Mercer MP, a former British Army captain who served three combat tours in Afghanistan, was sacked by text from the Tory government this week after informing Prime Minister Johnson that he planned to resign over the government’s failure to protect veterans of the conflict in Northern Ireland from repeated investigations and litigation.
The somewhat controversial Overseas Operations Bill currently making its way through Parliament offers some protection to servicemen and veterans, who have often been raked over the coals on the basis of spurious allegations in recent years by sometimes disreputable lawyers, after a period of five years. But those who served in Northern Ireland, or Ulster, have been explicitly excluded from the legislation.
Both Boris Johnson and his predecessor Theresa May vowed to put an end to the legal persecution of Northern Ireland veterans, some now in advanced old age and being pursued for supposed offences from half a century ago, but have failed to follow through — indeed, Mrs May personally blocked protections for Northern Ireland veterans behind the scenes despite promising them in public.
Mercer says he, too, had been promised legislation covering Northern Ireland veterans in parallel to the Overseas Operations Bill by Boris Johnson, but informed the Prime Minister he would be resigning when it became clear this was not forthcoming — prompting the PM’s team to leak his planned resignation to the press and sack him by text in a pushed-before-he-could-jump situation.
I’m sorry to have been relieved of my responsibilities in Government tonight. pic.twitter.com/AWai59fVhE
— Johnny Mercer (@JohnnyMercerUK) April 20, 2021
“This is not about justice,” Mercer said of the Johnson administration’s to allow the pursuit of Northern Ireland veterans to continue in comments to the Telegraph.
“It is about a group of lawyers and average politicians sucking at a firehose of public money, trashing veterans in the process and dragging out the grief for the families,” he alleged.
“It’s the sort of thing the Boris Johnson I know stands up against. But leadership is all about who you surround yourself with. If you surround yourself with desperately weak people who will endlessly tell you what you want to hear, driven by Spads [special advisers] who have that classic combination of over-confidence blended perfectly with total ineptitude, you will get surprises.”
The former commando was blunt about his own situation, saying his “experience in Government has been horrific”.
“It’s safe to say I felt like I was treated like s*** throughout, and the last act of leaking my resignation which I sent as a courtesy only to Number 10 so that I didn’t ambush them, was a huge mistake,” he said.
“Any goodwill was lost. And then when I refused to resign I challenged the Chief Whip to look me in the eye and sack me. He couldn’t do it, I left and he texted me. That summed it up. What cowards.”
— Johnny Mercer (@JohnnyMercerUK) April 21, 2021
Most Provisional Irish Republic Army (IRA) terrorists, of course, were sprung from prison for crimes they were actually convicted for, including the murder of many soldiers, police officers, politicians, and ordinary civilians, as part of the so-called Good Friday Agreement which brought the conflict in Northern Ireland under control.
Both terrorists and servicemen never brought to book for their crimes are still open to prosecution, at least in theory, but as Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) politician Sir Jeffrey Donaldson explained in 2019, “The reality is the IRA terrorists were given letters to enable them to return home from being on the run and evading justice” by the government, with the effect being that the courts will not now pursue them for their crimes.
“What the people of Northern Ireland have had to put up with is watch the terrorists, who were responsible for so much murder and mayhem, being given an easy ride,” Sir Jeffrey explained — meaning the only people still being investigated and reinvestigated in Northern Ireland for alleged offences are the veterans who loyally served the British government, for the most part.
— Johnny Mercer (@JohnnyMercerUK) April 21, 2021
Whilst Mercer will receive plaudits from some traditional conservatives for taking a stand for Northern Ireland veterans, his own reputation for honour was, for some, irretrievably damaged by some of his own past behaviour.
This has included branding Breitbart’s James Delingpole “a selfish c***” on social media for expressing scepticism of mask-wearing. More damningly, Mercer joining a pile-on against the now-deceased conservative philosopher Sir Roger Scruton after when leftist journalists attempted to “cancel” him over various out-of-context or misleadingly parsed quotations.
In an effort to defend himself against the backlash he received when the case against Sir Roger, a decorated hero in many countries formerly behind the Iron Curtain for his work assisting anti-communist dissidents during the Cold War unravelled, Mercer claimed he had had no idea who the celebrated philosopher actually was prior to joining the clamour for his cancellation.
Harris-Quinney: Scruton Was Hounded by Woke Mob and Fake Conservatives in His Final Months https://t.co/2Da0vihRIf
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 15, 2020