EXCL: Johnny Mercer has called the British government “the most distrustful, awful environment I've ever worked in”, in his first interview since being sacked as Veterans Minister last night. Listen to it on @TimesRadio in a few minutes.
Of some of his fellow former minister and special adviser colleagues, Mercer says: “Almost nobody tells the truth is what I've worked out over the last 36 hours”, he tells me, calling most of politics “a bit of a cesspit”.
Mercer: "This place has taught me a lot about the government a lot about my colleagues, let's say shooting straight is not one of their finest qualities. At some point, everyone has to grow up a bit".
On why he resigned, Mercer says he was alone in wanting to halt legacy prosecutions of Northern Ireland vets. “If I am made to feel like I'm the last man in the room who's willing to fulfil our manifesto commitments, there's something wrong. We reached that point, so I left”.
Mercer: “Looking solemn at Armistice Day is not just good enough anymore. We have to deliver for these people. We have a huge challenge looking after the Afghan and Iraq cohort. We have to get this right. And I will do everything right to ensure that we can".
Mercer says the PM himself wants to do the right thing for veterans, but hasn’t yet. “I think Boris Johnson is deeply committed to this agenda. I think he wants to deliver it. He recognises the injustice of it. But the truth is that nothing has been done".
Instead, Mercer says the PM has the wrong staff and senior minsiters. “I think one of the biggest challenges of leadership and strategic leadership is the people you surround yourself with. He should expect his ministers to be as committed to the manifesto as he is".