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Tory MP Mercer strikes over Troubles soldiers' prosecutions

Johnny Mercer (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Johnny Mercer (Stefan Rousseau/PA)
Jonathan Bell

By Jonathan Bell

A Conservative MP has withdrawn his support for the government over the prosecution of Troubles soldiers.

Former Army officer Johnny Mercer announced on Twitter he would no longer vote for any of his government's legislative actions - save for Brexit - until new laws are put in place protecting veterans and ending the "abhorrent process" of prosecuting soldiers for historical allegations.

The Plymouth Moor View MP said he could not support the government while "one particular injustice continues unabated".

He said the historical prosecution of servicemen and women was "personally offensive" to him.

"You will not meet a serving soldier who does not believe that those who break the law on operations should be prosecuted," he wrote in his letter to the Prime Minister.

"But 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 the conflict through other means without any protection from a Government who sent them almost 50 years ago, is too much."

Mr Mercer said there were options available to the Prime Minister which the Government was refusing to make a decision on.

He said it appeared his values and ethos may be slowly "but very firmly separating from the party I joined".

The MP said a recent episode with the whips office of his party had "ground out any residual co-operation".

Last month he received an apology from chief whip Julian Smith after claims attempts were made from his officer to provide "dirt" on Mr Mercer.

His decision to withdraw support for the government comes after the Public Prosecution Service deemed there was enough evidence to charge one soldier with murder and attempted murder over the incidents during Bloody Sunday in Derry in 1972.

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