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Johnny Mercer: The military man who went into politics having never voted

Johnny Mercer became veterans’ affairs minister in 2022 (James Manning/PA)
Johnny Mercer became veterans’ affairs minister in 2022 (James Manning/PA)

Johnny Mercer’s entrance into the political arena may have seemed a surprise given that he admitted never having voted before.

But it was his experience in the military that he said drove him into politics, telling of a “displeasure” at how soldiers and veterans were treated by various governments over the years.

He was selected by the Conservatives to run for his local seat of Plymouth Moor View in 2013 and won at the 2015 General Election.

But on Friday morning it was announced he had been defeated by Labour.

On the gov.uk webpage outlining his biography, it stated that Mr Mercer entered politics “despite having never voted before”.

He went on to serve as Minister for Veterans’ Affairs at the Cabinet Office, with the topics of defence, veterans and mental health forming much of what he spoke about in the House of Commons.

Mr Mercer came from a military family and graduated from Sandhurst in 2002, going on to serve around the world.

In 2021 the former Army officer dramatically quit the Government after frustration at what he saw as a lack of progress over legislation to protect British veterans who served during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

But while Downing Street said then-Prime Minister Boris Johnson had accepted Mr Mercer’s resignation, the latter posted on Twitter that he was “sorry to have been relieved of my responsibilities in Government” amid reports that he was sacked.

Mr Mercer attended some of the trial in Belfast of a soldier later convicted of killing a man at an Army checkpoint in Northern Ireland more than 30 years ago – the first veteran to be convicted of a historical offence in Northern Ireland since the peace agreement.

Mr Mercer faced controversy earlier this year, when he was told by a judge he must hand over names of the people who told him about alleged special forces murders in Afghanistan.

Mr Mercer was previously told his refusal “to answer legitimate questions… at a public inquiry” were “disappointing… surprising… and completely unacceptable”.

He repeatedly refused to hand over names to the Afghanistan Inquiry of “multiple officers” who told him about allegations of murder and a cover-up during his time as a backbench MP.

A decision over whether he can continue to withhold names was then postponed until after the General Election.

Mr Mercer is married with two children.