Johnny Mercer received almost £8,000 in taxpayers’ cash after he was sacked by Liz Truss, it has emerged.
The veterans minister was dismissed from his ministerial role as soon as Truss obtained the keys to No 10 last September. He appeared angry about Truss’s move saying he was “disappointed” but accepted that the prime minister is “entitled to reward her supporters”.
After Truss’s short stint in Downing Street, Mercer was reappointed to the role by Rishi Sunak, prompting questions over whether he had accepted the £16,876 payout to which he was entitled.
Ministers sacked and reappointed are able to claim thousands of pounds in redundancy pay as long as they have been out of a ministerial post for at least three weeks.
When contacted by the Guardian last September, Mercer did not respond to calls for comment on whether he had accepted the payout and what he was doing with the money.
He later said he did not get a £17,000 severance payment and he did not “talk about that stuff”.
But a new Cabinet Office report shows that the Tory minister received £7,920 for leaving his role on 6 September.
Rachel Hopkins, the shadow veterans minister, has asked Mercer in a letter to confirm whether he kept the payment or donated it to charity.
“The clear inference from that statement is you did not receive any taxpayers’ cash. I would remind you of the seven principles of public life which underpin the ministerial code – specifically that holders of public office should be truthful.”
She added: “As a serious matter of public interest, will you be contacting your local paper to correct the record and ensure there is no appearance of deliberately misleading your constituents?
“Do you agree that during a Conservative cost of living crisis, the acceptance of public funds – the equivalent of £130 per day during your tenure – in this manner by you and your colleagues undermines the trust of the electorate in our democratic institutions?”
Grant Shapps, who was also entitled to the £16,876 sum, was understood to be donating half of the sum to charity.
Dominic Raab, Michael Gove and Steve Barclay were also entitled to receive £16,876 each. Gove and Raab said they hoped to pay back half of the sum on a pro-rata basis.
Truss sacked a number of Boris Johnson’s allies when she became prime minister, and filled the cabinet with loyalists in a move to get her failed vision across. When Truss formed her cabinet, she welcomed back a host of ministers who resigned from office two months before in protest over Johnson’s leadership.