A Government minister has described Carol Vorderman as “grim” after his wife accused the outspoken TV personality of being a “celebrity attack dog” who is “inciting people to hate all Tories”.
Johnny Mercer, MP for Plymouth Moor View and Minister for Defence People and Veterans, made the jibe after Vorderman tweeted that he was “wrong” to say that food bank use is “a personal decision”. Vorderman said: “I grew up in poverty, mum had five jobs, nearly killed her. It was NOT a choice.”
Her tweet also said that Mercer and his wife, who works in his office, had a “total taxpayers’ salary of approx £120,000”, with a “total cost to taxpayer” of £373,663. Mercer responded with “you are grim” – and included a vomiting emoji in his tweet for good measure.
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In a later tweet, Vorderman said: “Has he been hacked? Or is this now a new low Tory govt bar?”. Mercer’s wife, Felicity Cornelius-Mercer, appeared to confirm the tweet was from her husband – and defended his response.
She replied: “Always count on @JohnnyMercerUK to tell it to you straight. You really do seem like a nasty person.”
And then Mercer himself weighed back in, tweeting: “No. You’re just a deeply unpleasant person.”
The Twitter spat blew up after Mercer told Sky News it was “not correct” to say that people – including Armed Forces personnel and veterans – are being ‘forced’ to use food banks. The former British Army captain said: “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 around 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 a budget.”
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When it was put to him that people do not choose to rely on food banks, Mercer replied: “Well, in my experience that is not correct. I think there are some dire cases that we need to do more to wrap our arms around and make sure that 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.”
Mercer later commented on Twitter: “Enjoying the collective bed-wetting on this. 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.”
The spat also comes after Mrs Cornelius-Mercer appeared on a podcast with Boris Johnson’s journalist sister Rachel and said that Vorderman “drives me up the f—ing wall”.
“For me, it’s this idea of these celebrity attack dogs that know nothing about politics,” said Cornelius-Mercer. “I understand everyone has an opinion on politics, but for me, it’s this blanket hatred of, it’s like inciting people to hate all Tories.
“If you dig deeper, there are so many Tory MPs – they’re all very different. There’s a huge range of different types of personalities, different opinions, different views, different principles.
“You can’t blanket hate. This is what Vorderman seems to be doing. She keeps using words like ‘disgusting’.”
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