Defence Minister Johnny Mercer resigns

20 April 2021, 19:17 | Updated: 20 April 2021, 19:46

Johnny Mercer has resigned as defence minister
Johnny Mercer has resigned as defence minister. Picture: PA

By Will Taylor

Defence Minister Johnny Mercer has resigned, it has been confirmed.

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.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, posted on his Twitter account, Mr Mercer said: "It is with a heavy heart that I am forced to offer you my resignation from your Government."

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He said he had hoped Boris Johnson's premiership would "signal a step change in veterans affairs in the UK".

Mr Mercer added: "Whilst we continue to say all the right things, you will understand that if we fail to match that with what we deliver, we risk damaging an already bruised veterans cohort further, as I told you last month in our first face to face meeting, we crossed that line some time ago."

Mr Johnson has accepted his departure as veterans minister, a Downing Street spokeswoman said.

The PM thanked the MP for Plymouth Moor View, who has been a minister since 2019, for his service.

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."

Mr Mercer has 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 does not cover incidents in Northern Ireland.

More to follow...