Veterans top of agenda for next Tory leader: MP

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The next leader of the Conservative Party will not be able to ignore the veterans agenda, a Tory MP and former Army officer has said.

Johnny Mercer made the comment yesterday after Prime Minister Theresa May was heavily criticised by several of her own MPs for the government’s handling of veterans’ issues – particularly those relating to the treatment of military personnel who served in Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

Tory MP and former Army captain Johnny Mercer.

Tory MP and former Army captain Johnny Mercer.

During Prime Minister’s Questions, Mrs May came under fire from a number of Tory MPs, with one, Mark Francois, reading out a letter from an ex-soldier and Chelsea Pensioner which accused her of “pandering to Sinn Fein/IRA” while “throwing veterans to the wolves”.

The PM stressed that it is “not the case that the terrorists have an amnesty”, and she insisted the government’s proposals were about having a “fair and just system”.

Mr Mercer, the MP for Plymouth Moor View, said he believes the PM is beginning to understand the “level of fury” among veterans about the way they have been treated over the years.

“The weather is changing. This is now at the top of the national political agenda, where it should have been 20 years ago. The next leader will be unable to ignore the veterans agenda. We keep going until genuine change has happened,” he later tweeted.