Johnny Mercer has given so much ammunition to critics of Boris Johnson

Johnny Mercer has given so much ammunition to critics of Boris Johnson

I suspect Johnny Mercer’s words will be used by Sir Keir Starmer and many other political opponents of the Tory Party, I suspect the quotes from Mercer may rival the out of context quote from Mrs Thatcher about there is no such thing as society which was used to batter a generation of Conservatives, as the Guardian write up says.

Former veterans’ minister Johnny Mercer has launched an extraordinary attack on Boris Johnson’s government, describing it as a “cesspit” and “the most distrustful, awful environment I’ve ever worked in”.

A day after his resignation, the MP also accused ministers of being “cowards” for not implementing a controversial pledge to end “vexatious historical investigations” of veterans who served in Northern Ireland.

During an interview on Times Radio, the former minister said he had quit on Tuesday evening because he had been unable deliver on the promise, originally made by Boris Johnson during his leadership campaign in the summer of 2019.

A clearly angry Mercer, a former army captain, said his resignation was an act of personal accountability – and sought to contrast his conduct with colleagues who remained in government.

“This is the most distrustful, awful environment I’ve ever worked in, in government. Almost nobody tells the truth is what I’ve worked out over the last 36 hours.

“And, you know, I don’t think anyone really can get on their high horse about trust and ethics and all the rest of it in politics, because as far as I’m concerned, most of it is a bit of a cesspit.”

The thing is I suspect many critics of Boris Johnson inside the Tory party will also be using the words of Johnny Mercer. As this piece by Tom Newton Dunn points out that Boris Johnson has actively lied to so many Tory MPs, the problem with that in the words Newton Dunn is “Broken promises add up. Every one is a lost vote, another brick in the wall. Another Mercer outside the tent, angrily weeing into it.”

The issue that Mercer has resigned over is something that seems to be an odd hill to die on ,as Patrick Maguire notes ‘Tory opponents of Troubles legacy prosecutions have more in common with Sinn Féin than they would ever admit, or, to be less charitable, ever realise. It suits both to argue that murder was as natural as the weather and, while regrettable, couldn’t be helped — never mind the law.

The thing is plenty of Tory MPs and activists do care about this and support Mercer, so by placing Mercer on the backbenches won’t be the end of the matter, Boris Johnson needs to handle this delicately or it might cause him further problems. Does he have the nous to deal with that? It is more likely Tory MPs end Boris Johnson’s premiership than Sir Keir Starmer ending Johnson’s premiership.


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