The Tory MP attacking the government has some complaints we should all be aware of

Image of Johnny Mercer, Troubles era policing, and Theresa May
John Shafthauer

Johnny Mercer, the Conservative MP for Plymouth Moor View, has hit the headlines after attacking the government. People have credited a lot of what he had to say, but some of his complaints bear closer scrutiny. His criticism of UK security personnel being held accountable for potentially unlawful killings is one of them.

Mercer and the government

Mercer is a former soldier who wrote the book We Were Warriors. Before becoming an MP, he had never voted. He’s had disagreements with the government since taking office, but his voting record shows he’s generally voted in line with the party. There are two exceptions to this:

In an interview for parliamentary magazine The House on 18 October, Mercer commented on the state of the government:

I mean, yeah, you realise it’s a shit show.

He also said:

If the situation was like it is now, I can safely say there would be absolutely no chance that I would try and be a Member of Parliament.

Regarding Brexit, he said:

If you look at Chequers, for example, that is your classic professional politicians’ answer because it’s right down the middle. It doesn’t make anybody happy.

And he claimed Universal Credit:

could be a defining policy of a modern, compassionate Conservative party.

But something which is getting less attention is his reference to Theresa May’s handling of the investigation into killings during the Troubles:

She did not answer in a way that made me proud to be a member of the governing party.


Mercer was referring to the PM’s comments that the investigation process into Troubles-era Northern Ireland saw:

a disproportionate focus on former members of the armed forces and the police.

The issue Mercer and other MPs have isn’t balance; it’s that soldiers are being investigated at all – something he described as “completely abhorrent”. He is part of a parliamentary movement seeking amnesty for soldiers who are suspected of committing crimes in the Troubles.

The Canary has previously reported on the killing of John Pat Cunningham:

The British Life Guard Regiment shot and killed Cunningham near his home in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. They shot him in a field. He was unarmed and described as “a vulnerable man with learning difficulties”.

In April 2015, Dennis Hutchings was charged with attempted murder. The case is still ongoing.

His killing is one of many that have gone unsolved.


An amnesty on Troubles-era killings would allow cases like John Pat Cunningham’s to be swept under the rug. It’s good that Mercer is now criticising the government he’s consistently voted in line with, but little of the coverage has focused on his actual politics. The risk is we start thinking Conservatives like him are a decent alternative to the current lot. They aren’t. And the horrors he’d turn a blind eye to show why.

Get Involved!

– Join The Canary, so we can keep holding the powerful to account.

– Contact Justice for the forgottenThe Pat Finucane Centre, and Relatives for Justice.

Featured image via UK parliament/Wikimedia, Annika Haas/Wikimedia, Sineakee/Wikimedia


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John Shafthauer