Johnny Mercer has become the latest Tory MP to be criticised over food bank comments

Johnny Mercer has become the latest Tory MP to be criticised over food bank comments
Tory Minister claims food bank use is 'personal decision'
Sky News

Conservative MPs and food banks seem to go as well together as Boris Johnson and parliamentary committees, as yet another Tory has come under fire for remarks about the charitable initiative designed to help those who can’t afford to feed themselves.

In a similar vein to Gareth Bacon’s suggestion that food bank users just have to “look at how they manage their finances”, and in comments that’ll make Lee “30p Lee” Anderson blush, veterans minister Johnny Mercer appeared to suggest the use of a food bank (y’know, to not starve) is a choice.

During an interview with Sky News presenter Kay Burley on Tuesday, the minister – who was appointed to the post by Boris Johnson, dropped by Liz Truss and then re-appointed by Rishi Sunak – was asked if there was any need for military personnel to be relying on food banks.

Mr Mercer replied: “These are personal decisions around how people are budgeting every month.

“I don’t want to see anyone using food banks, of course I don’t, but we’re in an extremely difficult time with the cost of living.

“I’ll always advocate for service personnel to get paid more – I’d be mad not to – but it has to be within the constraints of the budget.”

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After Ms Burley challenged the politician on his suggestion that food bank usage was a choice, arguing that people have “no other alternative”, Mr Mercer added: “In my experience, Kay, that’s not correct.

“I think there are some dire cases that we need to do more to wrap our arms round and make sure there is a safety net for people.

“I don’t think food bank use is an accurate portrayal of where levels of poverty – relative or absolute poverty – are in this country.

“I think being in the military still affords you a good wage and a good quality of life, and that will continue to be the case.”

Mr Mercer’s comments have since been branded “heartless”, “arrogant” and “disgusting” by social media users.

And as the criticism continues, the Plymouth MP has doubled down on his comments, going as far as to say he is “enjoying the collective bed-wetting” over the issue.

He tweeted: “Military personnel should not be using food banks – period. Disagree if you like, but that is true.

“If you are serving personnel and you are using a food bank because you are ‘starving’ please do call me and I will come and see you.”

It wasn’t just his comments about food bank usage either which got social media riled up, as he also criticised the “class war” against Rishi Sunak, the prime minister, when bringing up his considerable wealth.

“[It] really goes down badly in places like mine, which is one of the most deprived constituencies in the UK. They want someone who’s actually extremely gifted, extremely talented, very capable, knows what he’s on about.

“They actually feel like they can trust him with this stuff. They couldn’t care less how much money he’s got,” he said.

Twitter begged to differ:

Even Countdown mathematician turned Tory critic Carol Vorderman had something to say about Mr Mercer’s Sky News appearance, saying that he’s “[obviously] living on a different planet”.

The Conservative MP wasn’t happy with the broadcaster’s intervention, clapping back with a tweet which said: “I was actually talking about ending veterans’ homelessness but don’t let that dim your warped yet very cosmetic hatred.

“Happy to occupy a different planet to you.”


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