Prime Minister accepts resignation of veterans minister who claims Northern Ireland troops were 'betrayed'

Prime Minister accepts resignation of veterans minister who claims Northern Ireland troops were 'betrayed'

VETERANS Minister Johnny Mercer has resigned from the cabinet due to his dissatisfaction with the treatment of Northern Ireland veterans.

The former British Army officer was reported to be displeased by the lack of progress in dealing with former personnel being investigated for killings during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

He played a significant role in the crafting of the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel and Veterans) Bill.

The legislation was crafted in response to legal claims made relating to operations in Iraq and Afghanistan but does not cover incidents which occurred on UK soil, such as those in Northern Ireland.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson thanked the MP for Plymouth Moor View for his service as a minister following his resignation on Tuesday, April 20, a No 10 spokeswoman has confirmed.

The statement released shortly after 7pm 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.”

Since leaving government, Mr Mercer told The Telegraph that Boris Johnson was surrounded by “cowards” and “desperately weak” advisers who had “betrayed” veterans of the Northern Ireland conflict.

He went on to say that the prosecution of veterans, many of whom are in their 70s and 80s, over events that occurred over 50 years ago, was a “huge scandal” and an “appalling betrayal” of men and women in uniform.

Mr Mercer also said that while he was in government, his attempts to offer protection to personnel who served in Northern Ireland were constantly frustrated.

Mr Mercer told The Telegraph: “This is not about justice. 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.

“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.”