Military veterans call for minister’s apology

Friends have backed veterans who are calling on a Conservative minister to apologise after encouraging people to 'ignore' white poppy wearers

Friends have backed a group of twelve military veterans who wrote a letter to a Conservative minister calling on him to apologise after he encouraged people to ‘ignore’ white poppy wearers.

The backlash grew when Johnny Mercer, the minister for veterans, tweeted that white poppy wearers are ‘attention-seeking’ and accused them of trying to ‘hijack’ the poppy.

He said on Twitter: ‘Ignore the wearers of them. If you don’t want to wear a poppy don’t bother; they fought and died so you could choose. But don’t deliberately try and hijack its symbolism for your own ends.’

The letter pointed out that cuts to the welfare state, on which many veterans rely, compare to ‘the seventh highest military expenditure in the world’. It said: ‘We suggest that instead of worrying about what poppy someone might wear, as minister for veterans, you would be better spending your energy addressing the issues afflicting veterans of all services. Veterans are disproportionately represented in the homeless population, in prisons, and with mental health issues.’

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