Johnny Mercer (politician)

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Johnny Mercer

Official portrait of Johnny Mercer (cropped).jpg
Member of Parliament
for Plymouth Moor View
Assumed office
8 May 2015
Preceded byAlison Seabeck
Majority5,019 (11.1%)
Personal details
Born (1981-08-17) 17 August 1981 (age 37)
Kent, United Kingdom
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)Felicity Mercer
Children2
Alma materRoyal Military Academy Sandhurst
WebsiteOfficial website
Military career
Allegiance United Kingdom
Service/branch British Army
Years of service2002-2013
RankCaptain
Service number558186
Unit29th Commando Regiment Royal Artillery
Battles/warsWar in Afghanistan

John Luther Mercer (born 17 August 1981) is a British Conservative politician and business consultant who has been Member of Parliament for Plymouth Moor View since the 2015 general election, when he gained the seat from Labour. He is a former British Army officer and an author.

Early life and career[edit]

John Mercer was born in Dartford on 17 August 1981. The son of a banker and a nurse, he grew up in a strict Baptist family with seven siblings.[1][2] Between 1995 and 2000, he was educated at Eastbourne College, a co-educational independent school in Eastbourne in East Sussex.[3] After completing school, he worked as an intern in the City of London instead of attending university, following an offer from a friend's relative.[4][5][6][better source needed] He worked as a project administrator at Eurolife Assurance Company Ltd, a now defunct insurance company, leaving a month after the Financial Services Authority withdrew the company's authorisation to conduct new insurance business.[7][8][9][better source needed]

Military career[edit]

Mercer was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Royal Artillery after passing out from Royal Military Academy Sandhurst in June 2003 and was promoted to lieutenant in April 2005.[10][11] Mercer passed the All Arms Commando Course and served mostly with 29th Commando Regiment Royal Artillery. He did three tours of Afghanistan:[12][13] as a liaison and training officer with Afghan forces; attached to a Special Forces unit; and as a co-ordinator of artillery and air strikes in support of ground operations. Mercer retired from military service in December 2013 with the rank of captain.[14]

Two years after becoming an MP, in June 2017, Mercer published We Were Warriors: One Soldier’s Story of Brutal Combat, a memoir of his upbringing and army service, especially his three combat tours in Afghanistan.[15]

Political career[edit]

Mercer has said publicly that he had not been politically active in his younger years and the first time he voted was for himself when he first ran for office.[16] He said that he entered politics with a view to improving the care of veterans and felt that he was a Conservative because he regarded a "massive welfare state that saps the ambition and drive of a younger generation" as a problem.[13] After contacting ex-military Conservative MP Bob Stewart, he was selected as the Conservative Party candidate for Plymouth Moor View two months after leaving the army in February 2014.[13]

Mercer has said he was largely responsible for organising his own campaign "on the cheap".[13] To raise funds he worked on building sites and even appeared in a shower gel advert.[17][18] He was elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Plymouth Moor View at the 2015 general election, defeating the incumbent Labour MP Alison Seabeck. Mercer delivered his maiden speech in the House of Commons on 1 June 2015, describing his "main missions" in Parliament to be improving provision for mental health and support for war veterans.[19] He has been critical of the Iraq Historic Allegations Team.[20]

Mercer was opposed to Brexit prior to the 2016 referendum, although he says that the result should be respected.[21][22] Mercer was re-elected with an increased majority at the 2017 general election and he has focused on care for veterans.[23][15]

He was the subject of criticism in July 2018 after he choose to appear in Celebrity Hunted, a Channel 4 television programme where participants go on the run and images are released of them so people can try to track them down, rather than attend his work in Parliament. Whilst appearing on the programme he missed the meeting of the Health and Social Care Committee, which he is a member of, shortly before Parliament broke up for the summer recess. Mercer defended his decision, via a Channel 4 statement, arguing he had used his position to raise money for charity and had brought his parliamentary roles into filming.[24][25]

In October 2018, Mercer took on a second job working twenty hours a month as a consultant to Crucial Academy for a salary of £85,000. Local Labour candidate Charlotte Holloway accused him of neglecting his constituency duties to earn a “staggering” amount of money. Mercer said the accusation "smacked of political jealousy".[26]

In an interview with The House magazine in the same month, Mercer suggested that his values no longer aligned with the current Conservative party leadership and said there would be "absolutely no chance" of his starting out as a candidate of the party at this time.[27]

In the House of Commons he sits on the Defence Committee, the Defence Sub-Committee and the Health and Social Care Committee.[28]

Expenses[edit]

Mercer has been challenged over his expenses on a number of occasions. His successful campaign to get elected as an MP in 2015 was subsequently the subject of a police investigation following allegations it breached rules on campaign spending. Mercer admitted to police that his account of expenses had been incorrect, but argued that the errors were minor and his spending had not breached legal limits.[29] The Crown Prosecution Service declined to charge him and the case was dropped.[30][31]

In November 2015, he was criticised by the TaxPayers’ Alliance after it was revealed he had purchased five Apple iMacs on his Commons expenses, rather than 'cheaper equivalents'. Mercer responded that the purchases were appropriate and 'were cheaper than the desktop computers offered to MPs by the House of Commons’ official supplier'.[32] He was criticised in May 2016 for claiming £2,500 on expenses for “professional services” on social media management and in December 2017 The Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority opened an investigation to determine whether Mercer had been paid business expenses he should not have.[33]

Mercer employs his wife as a part-time Office Manager on a salary up to £30,000.[34] The practice of MPs employing family members has been criticised by some sections of the media on the lines that it promotes nepotism.[35][36] Although MPs who were first elected in 2017 have been banned from employing family members, the restriction is not retrospective - meaning that Mercer's employment of his wife is lawful.[37]

Personal life[edit]

Mercer is married to Felicity and they have two young children.[3] The family live a small village on the edge of Bodmin Moor, in Cornwall.[38] For his work in Parliament, Mercer stays in hotel on expenses. When he was first elected, he slept in East London on his boat several nights a week, stating in The Daily Telegraph at the time that it reduced his expenses costs.[39] After local media reported he had started using hotels instead, he said it was due to the weather conditions and that his expenses claims were still lower than the maximum that could be allowed.[40] He is no longer a practising Christian.[41]

On a summer boat trip in 2016, he saved the life of fellow Conservative MP Scott Mann who was "ashamed to admit" he could not swim.[42][43][44]

Honours[edit]

OSM for Afghanistan BAR.svg OSM for Afghanistan

References[edit]

  1. ^ Mercer. J. 2017. We Were Warriors: One Soldier’s Story of Brutal Combat. London: Sidgwick & Jackson.
  2. ^ Mikhailova, Anna (6 May 2018). "Tory MP Johnny Mercer: My battles with mental illness - and how Army veterans are being exploited and failed". Retrieved 7 May 2018 – via www.telegraph.co.uk.
  3. ^ a b "Mercer, Johnny, (born 17 Aug. 1981), MP (C) Plymouth Moor View, since 2015 | WHO'S WHO & WHO WAS WHO". doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.001.0001/ww-9780199540884-e-283875.
  4. ^ "Mercer, Johnny, (born 17 Aug. 1981), MP (C) Plymouth Moor View, since 2015 | WHO'S WHO & WHO WAS WHO". doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.001.0001/ww-9780199540884-e-283875.
  5. ^ "Life before being an MP". Johnny For Plymouth. Archived from the original on 6 March 2016. Retrieved 29 February 2016.
  6. ^ Mercer. J. 2017. We Were Warriors: One Soldier’s Story of Brutal Combat. London: Sidgwick & Jackson.
  7. ^ "LinkedIn". Linkdin. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  8. ^ "Eurolife Assurance Company Ltd" (PDF). Financial Services and Markets Tribunal. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  9. ^ "Eurolife victims face choice over losses". The Guardian. 19 February 2005. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  10. ^ "No. 56952". The London Gazette (Supplement). 3 June 2003. p. 6794.
  11. ^ "No. 57653". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 May 2005. p. 7044.
  12. ^ "No. 58817". The London Gazette (Supplement). 9 September 2008. p. 13704.
  13. ^ a b c d Prince, Rosa (6 June 2015). "Afghanistan veteran Johnny Mercer's Westminster mission". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 27 November 2015. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
  14. ^ "No. 60890". The London Gazette (Supplement). 10 June 2014. p. 11368.
  15. ^ a b "We Were Warriors: One Soldier's Story of Brutal Combat - review". London Evening Standard. 22 June 2017. Archived from the original on 30 June 2017. Retrieved 22 July 2017.
  16. ^ Bennett, Owen (1 September 2015). "Johnny Mercer: We need to 'grow up' over Iraq, my 'gippingly' embarrassing Dove advert and why Tony Blair is my political hero". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 2 October 2015. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
  17. ^ Mason, Rowena (7 July 2015). "Plymouth MP appears half-naked in Dove shower gel advert". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 24 November 2015. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
  18. ^ "Model claims his naked body stared in shower gel advert". Plymouth Herald. 10 July 2015. Retrieved 7 January 2018.
  19. ^ Kirkup, James (2 June 2015). "Cynical about politicians? This speech by Johnny Mercer MP should make you think again". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 2 June 2015. Retrieved 3 June 2015.
  20. ^ Somper, James (18 September 2016). "British soldiers cleared of Iraqi civilian's death could now face prosecution". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 12 October 2016. Retrieved 12 October 2016. Mr Mercer, who has just started chairing a parliamentary select committee inquiry into the post-operational support given to armed forces personnel said that he was "deeply ashamed" of the decision and labelled Ihat and the 1,500 cases it is currently investigating as a "fatally flawed process" that should be shut down
  21. ^ Goodenough, Tom (16 February 2016). "Which Tory MPs back Brexit, who doesn't and who is still on the fence?". The Spectator. London. Archived from the original on 3 February 2017. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  22. ^ "Johnny Mercer: Why I have changed my mind over Brexit". Plymouth Herald. 2 April 2017. Archived from the original on 5 April 2017. Retrieved 22 July 2017.
  23. ^ "Plymouth Moor View result: Conservative Johnny Mercer re-elected". Plymouth Herald. 9 June 2017. Archived from the original on 9 June 2017. Retrieved 22 July 2017.
  24. ^ "Plymouth MP 'missed key NHS debate to appear on reality TV show'". Plymouth Herald. 26 July 2018. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  25. ^ "Tory MP explains why he missed parliament talk to go on reality TV show". Plymouth Herald. 28 July 2018. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  26. ^ "Labour candidate blasts Plymouth Tory MP's £85,000 a year second job". Plymouth Herald. 7 October 2018. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  27. ^ Whale, Sebastian (18 October 2018). "Johnny Mercer has said he would not vote Conservative if he was not already an MP for the party". PoliticsHome. Retrieved 21 October 2018.
  28. ^ "Johnny Mercer". Parliament UK. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  29. ^ Sam Blackledge, '"No action against Plymouth MP after 'admitting expenses error'". Plymouth Herald. 10 April 2017.
  30. ^ "Tory election spending: MP admitted to police some claims were wrong". The Guardian. London. 10 April 2017. Archived from the original on 10 April 2017. Retrieved 11 April 2017.
  31. ^ "MP Johnny Mercer's campaign expenditure investigated". BBC News. 8 July 2015. Archived from the original on 9 October 2015. Retrieved 23 November 2015.
  32. ^ "Tory MP Johnny Mercer accused over £3,500 expenses claim for five iMacs". Evening Standard. 16 November 2015. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  33. ^ "Johnny Mercer expenses investigation: Watchdog launches probe into Plymouth MP". Plymouth Herald. 4 December 2017. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  34. ^ "IPSA". GOV.UK. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  35. ^ "One in five MPs employs a family member: the full list revealed". The Daily Telegraph. 29 June 2015. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  36. ^ Mason, Rowena (29 June 2015). "Keeping it in the family: new MPs continue to hire relatives as staff". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  37. ^ "MPs banned from employing spouses after election in expenses crackdown". London Evening Standard. 21 April 2017. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  38. ^ "Johnny Mercer on life in the army, his childhood demons and the broken Tory "brand"". New Statesman. 9 February 2018. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  39. ^ Riley-Smith, Ben (2 January 2016). "Tory MP sleeps on boat in east London to avoid 'obscene' house prices in capital". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 2 January 2016. Retrieved 3 January 2016.
  40. ^ "MP ditches plan to save expenses by staying on his yacht then racks up £12,500 in hotel bills". Devon Live. 8 November 2017. Retrieved 10 October 2018.
  41. ^ "In 2014 Johnny Mercer had never voted – now he's an MP". Independent. 10 August 2017. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
  42. ^ Mann, Scott (18 November 2016). "I Am An Adult, And I Am Unable To Swim". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 18 November 2016.
  43. ^ McCann, Kate (18 November 2016). "Tory MP Johnny Mercer rescued colleague who was afraid to admit he couldn't swim from drowning". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 18 November 2016.
  44. ^ "Non-swimmer North Cornwall MP Scott Mann rescued after trying to swim to shore on Rame Peninsula". Cornwall Live. Local World. 18 November 2016. Retrieved 18 November 2016.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Alison Seabeck
Member of Parliament
for Plymouth Moor View

2015–present
Incumbent