No10 blocked veterans IDs at ballot box over fears it would ‘open floodgates’ to students, minister reveals

Johnny Mercer said plans to allow veterans IDs at polling stations were blocked by No10 over fears it would ‘open the floodgates’ to more students voting

Archie Mitchell
Wednesday 22 May 2024 10:31
Tory MP Johnny Mercer calls government 'a shitshow' and admits he wouldn't vote Conservative

Rishi Sunak blocked veterans using their IDs at polling stations over fears it could “open the floodgates” to more students voting, a cabinet minister has revealed.

Veterans minister Johnny Mercer complained he had tried “for months without success” to convince Downing Street to let veterans use their IDs to vote. But he said the prime minister’s special advisers blocked the plans over fears it would mean students could use their own ID cards too, according to The Times.

The newspaper obtained photos of Mr Mercer sitting barefoot on a train typing a memo bemoaning the voter ID rules and Mr Sunak’s Downing Street team.

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs Johnny Mercer with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

Former service personnel were turned away from polling stations at the local elections earlier this month, including Adam Diver, 46, who served for 27 years and said he was left “gutted” when he was unable to vote.

Mr Mercer vowed to do all he can to ensure veterans IDs are accepted by the general election expected this autumn.

Also in the memo, Mr Mercer criticised No10 for behaving as though Mr Sunak was still as popular as when he became prime minister in October 2022.

He said more popular ministers such as Kemi Badenoch and Penny Mordaunt, both seen as successors to Mr Sunak, were being given less airtime than “average performers” like transport secretary Mark Harper.

And he lashed out at the “haphazard, un-themed and loose” communication coming from Downing Street, blaming “overpromoted and underskilled advisers with “poor political judgement”.

He said that despite his access to No 10 and the prime minister, “I don’t feel part of the team”.

Pictures of Mr Mercer’s notes, written just days after the Conservatives faced a local election drubbing, were taken by a fellow passenger on the train and subsequently shared with The Times.

‘Political communication seems haphazard,’ Mr Mercer complained (Getty Images)

Mr Mercer wrote: “Political communication seems haphazard, un-themed and loose. We have average performers during important slots. How many people did Harper win over for us this weekend?

“Team in No 10 operating as though the PM is as popular in the polls as he was two years ago. It appears to be all about placating him/ managing him/ promoting him on social media. We are only going to get through this as a team. There are good, capable, senior colleagues around the cabinet table who people clearly like, who should see more airtime and be more prominent.”

Despite criticising his top team, Mr Mercer did not criticise the PM directly and is a staunch supporter of Mr Sunak.

A government source said: “Johnny is a brilliant veterans minister and a fearless politician and that’s why we love him.”

Mr Sunak’s popularity with voters has plummeted since he entered Downing Street, with his favourability dropping to levels last seen by Boris Johnson before he was forced to quit.

He is also the second least popular member of the government with grassroots Tories, with only illegal migration minister Michael Tomlinson beneath him in the Conservative Home cabinet league table.

He was relatively popular when he took over, having won praise for his handling of the economy through the pandemic.

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