Northern Ireland news

Tory MP Johnny Mercer refuses to support Theresa May until probes into British army veterans end

Johnny Mercer recently accused the Tory whips office of contacting former army comrades in an attempt to dig up dirt on him 
Gavin Cordon, Press Association

A Tory MP has told Theresa May he will no longer support the British government in the House of Commons unless the historical prosecutions of ex-servicemen and women ends.

In a letter to the British prime minister, former Army officer Johnny Mercer said he found the repeated investigations into allegations - some dating back decades - "personally offensive".

He said he was not to prepared to vote for government legislation - except on Brexit - until the government took "clear and concrete steps" to end the "abhorrent process".

"As you know, the historical prosecution of our servicemen and women is a matter that is personally offensive to me. Many are my friends; and I am from their tribe," he wrote.

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"These repeated investigations with no new evidence, the macabre spectacle of elderly veterans being dragged back to Northern Ireland to face those who seek to re-fight that conflict through other means, without any protection from the government who sent them almost 50 years ago, is too much.

"I will not be voting for any of the government's legislative actions outside of Brexit until legislation is brought forward to protect veterans from being repeatedly prosecuted for historical allegations."

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Mr Mercer has campaigned against the pursuit of legacy cases from the conflicts in Northern Ireland, Afghanistan and Iraq since he entered parliament in 2015.

His intervention will be seen in Westminster as further evidence of the prime minister's crumbling authority.

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He recently accused the Tory whips office of contacting former army comrades in an attempt to dig up dirt on him.

He wrote in his letter: "It has not been an easy decision to make. But this incident with your chief whip has forced my hand.

"It appears that my values and ethos may be slowly, but very firmly, separating from a party I joined in 2015."

There was no immediate response from Downing Street to his letter.

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