Liz Truss ‘laughed’ when she sacked Johnny Mercer from cabinet

Former minister says prime minister has abandoned Conservative values

Liam James
Tuesday 18 October 2022 02:26 BST
'Blindingly obvious' that Liz Truss 'must' go, says Conservative MP

Former minister Johnny Mercer has claimed Liz Truss laughed as she sacked him, saying his removal by the prime minister was “like a gut punch” that sent him into depression.

The Tory MP also said he believes the prime minister has abandoned the values of the Conservative Party and lost the authority to command the loyalty of her backbenchers.

He said Ms Truss reneged on a promise she made to him during her Tory leadership campaign that she would not downgrade the role of minister for veterans’ affairs, which the member for Plymouth Moor View then held.

Ms Truss dismissed Mr Mercer hours after she took the keys to No 10 and folded the veterans’ affairs portfolio into the brief of the minister for armed forces and veterans.

In an interview with Alastair Campbell for Men’s Health magazine, Mr Mercer said: “When this happened it was such a gut punch. I remember Liz kind of laughing while she did it.

“She was giggling and looking at the floor. I was just thinking, ‘I’m a mug for believing these guys. I’ve given seven years of my life to this, put my family through the mill for it, and now you are laughing at me.’

“I tried to shake it off, went home, got p***ed, all those things you shouldn’t do, but the thing about depression is it creeps over the back of your head.”

The former British Army officer, who toured Afghanistan several times, said that while he felt he had made progress for veterans, his abrupt dismissal made him doubt his time in politics.

“It’s gone at a stroke and it does make you think ‘why did I bother with this thing?’,” he said.

After his sacking, Mr Mercer said he was “disappointed” but accepted the prime minister was “entitled to reward her supporters”.

His wife Felicity Cornelius-Mercer went further, calling Ms Truss an “imbecile” and posting a picture mocking her as a character from The Muppets.

Mr Mercer said he was wrestling with whether to continue as an MP. He said he no longer identified with the Tory party after the change in direction under Ms Truss.

Mercer has fought for veterans to be better treated by state

“The truth is that the Conservative Party is no longer a Conservative party. It is a libertarian party. That’s fine if you’re a libertarian but I am not. I’m a life chances Tory. I want to give opportunity to the kids here who haven’t had it.”

Asked if the prime minister could get him back, Mr Mercer said: “Well, she has changed her views a lot over the years. There is an extraordinary arrogance here. You come in and within 28 days, you’ve gifted a 33-point lead to the opposition.

“It’s hard to get people to do what you want them to with that on your record. Almost impossible.”

He also conceded that if he was asked whether a Labour government under Sir Keir Starmer or a Tory government under Ms Truss was better for the country, he would find it very difficult to answer.

Mr Mercer said he entered politics with the aim of improving Britain’s treatment of veterans. He said he voted the party line on some issues such as benefits and Budget matters in order to stay in a position to hold sway for his cause.

This is something he now regrets. “I swallowed so much s***, voting for this policy, that policy, all to try to keep the veterans agenda going down the path,” he said.

“However determined and resilient you are, there is a residual build-up that does stuff to your character.”

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