Johnny Mercer breaks silence as 'smoke clears' after election defeat

-Credit: (Image: Carl Eve/PlymouthLive)
-Credit: (Image: Carl Eve/PlymouthLive)


Johnny Mercer has shared a statement on his time as an MP as the 'smoke clears' following his General Election defeat in Plymouth's hotly contested Moor View ward. Mr Mercer said becoming a public figure was "never easy for him" but said he is proud of the work he has done to support veterans in the UK.

It was a night for the history books after Conservatives lost seats across the board. In Plymouth, Labour's Fred Thomas stormed to victory and Reform UK picked up a chunk of the vote share, polling just behind Mr Mercer.

Tory hopeful Mercer came in second after receiving 12,061 votes. Mr Thomas, the new MP, received 17,665 votes, securing victory with a 5,604 majority. Meanwhile, Reform's Shaun Hooper was in third place, with 9,670 votes.

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Mr Mercer had shared a short and sweet response as he left the Plymouth election count. When asked by a student journalist on behalf of ITV what he made of the result, he replied: "It is what it is" before repeating the phrase as he walked away.

Now, Mr Mercer has shared a long statement on his Facebook page to reflect on his time as an MP and the work he has done for veterans over the past 10 years. He said: "As the smoke clears on the events of this week, I just wanted to say a huge thank you to everybody who has supported me over the last ten years.

"Becoming a public figure has never been natural for me. I had a cause that wouldn’t release its grip, that burnt itself deep into my soul as a young man. I had to become somebody in order to fight politically for those of my generation who desperately needed it after a war in Afghanistan which casts shadows to this day.

"I am proud of what we have done. We have dragged veterans affairs in the United Kingdom from a sympathy driven, charity led, well intended but often fatally competitive and disorganised effort, into a more professional, collaborative, veteran focussed Government supported system, which I know – because I have the letters – saves and changes the lives of those special souls who have sacrificed for the Nation, precisely who I came into public life to help."

He added that whilst some may believe he "did not do enough" during his time as an MP, he felt he did his best to help veteran's rights. Mr Mercer also admitted that he had "failed" in some areas too but felt he could not have done more than he did.

"To those who feel I didn’t do enough, yes – I focussed on some areas more than others," the post continued. "Veterans’ rights, mental healthcare, rough sleeping, prosthetics and of course protecting Northern Ireland veterans. I was unsuccessful in some areas too – some issues remained outside my control, like Vets UK and compensation. I wear all the criticism. I did my best and often felt broken myself in the process. I am comfortable I could not have done more in the time and political space that I had. The opportunity for others to step up is always there.

"I felt enormous imposter syndrome daily, but always thought I owed it to those who never made it back from those Afghanistan years, and those for whom life had become a daily struggle, to press ahead - whatever the cost. Those of us who survived unscarred are lucky – nothing more; I thought that every day I went to work.

"I do want veterans to remember that we are not victims. We are privileged – we enjoy that “flavour of life because we have fought for it, that the protected shall never know”. It is a privilege to try and emulate our predecessors from battlefields past, but it ultimately is not an entitlement, and veterans must not become too hard to help."

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Mr Mercer ended by raising concerns about the future for veterans under the Labour government and the need for a new veterans minister. He also thanked everyone who has supported him over the last decade, including his team and his wife, Felicity.

He said: "You will note already that, despite his explicit personal promises in the election campaign, Keir Starmer has not appointed a veterans minister to his Cabinet. If you understand what Veterans need from their Government, this matters very much. The step change in programmes like Op FORTITUDE, Op COURAGE, Op RESTORE, Op NOVA, Op PROSPER and all the others, were because I had that cross-Government capability and position – outside of the MoD. Those now in power, paraded around by Starmer for their various military experiences, must mark themselves on how they too now actually change the lives of those who need them in the serving and veteran community.

"I have fought hard for Plymouth, a city that has shaped me since I was a teenager and will always be my ‘home port’. I thank everybody who came out to vote for me last week, sincerely and deeply. I know in the current climate how hard that was. I am so proud of my office team, and my campaign team for their unstinting loyalty and commitment to Plymouth.

Finally I must thank my wife, Felicity. She is the rock upon which I am built. Both during my time in the military, and subsequently in public life, she has sought to protect me always, and has the scars to prove it. As the saying goes, we are of course 'bloodied, but unbowed'. See you soon. Johnny."