James Heappey

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James Heappey

Official portrait of James Heappey MP crop 2.jpg
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Armed Forces
Assumed office
13 February 2020
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded byAnne-Marie Trevelyan
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement
In office
16 December 2019 – 13 February 2020
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded byAnne-Marie Trevelyan
Succeeded byJeremy Quin
Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Prime Minister
In office
4 August 2019 – 16 December 2019
Serving with Alex Burghart
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Preceded byAndrew Bowie
Succeeded byTrudy Harrison
Member of Parliament
for Wells
Assumed office
7 May 2015
Preceded byTessa Munt
Majority9,991 (16.2%)
Personal details
Born (1981-01-30) 30 January 1981 (age 39)
Nailsea, Somerset, England
Political partyConservative
Spouse(s)Kate Heappey
ResidenceAxbridge, Somerset
EducationQueen Elizabeth's Hospital
Alma materUniversity of Birmingham
Websitejamesheappey.org.uk
Military service
Allegiance United Kingdom
Branch/service British Army
RankMajor

James Stephen Heappey[1] (born 30 January 1981) is a British Conservative Party politician and former British Army officer.[2] He has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Wells in Somerset since 2015. He is currently the Minister for the Armed Forces.[3]

Early life[edit]

Heappey was born on 30 January 1981 in Nailsea, Somerset. He was privately educated at Queen Elizabeth's Hospital in Bristol and graduated from the University of Birmingham having studied Political Science.[4][5]

Military career[edit]

Following university, Heappey attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.[6] He then served as an officer in the Royal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment and then The Rifles, the county regiment for Somerset, in Kabul in 2005, Northern Ireland in 2006, Basra in 2007 and Sangin in Helmand Province in 2009.[7] He also served in Kenya, and in 2011 he was posted to the Ministry of Defence in London,[2] where he worked as executive officer on the General Staff and was promoted to Major in 2012.[8] After leaving the British Army, he worked as a researcher for the Conservative MP for North Somerset Liam Fox.[8]

Political career[edit]

Heappey was first elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Wells in the 2015 general election,[9] having been selected as the Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate two years earlier.[10] He used his maiden speech in the House of Commons to encourage the Government to continue addressing the problems that many rural communities face, including poor road connections, limited access to the rail network, weak phone signals and slow broadband speeds.[11]

In October 2015, Heappey succeeded Nick de Bois as the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the UK Events Industry.[12] He also serves as Vice Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Rural Business, a group which seeks to secure policy outcomes that promote the sustainable growth of the rural economy.[13]

From July 2015[14][15] to October 2016, Heappey served on the House of Commons' Energy and Climate Change Select Committee.[16] He backed the Government's decision to give the go-ahead for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station, in particular citing the benefits for the local economy of Somerset.[17] Heappey has also called for greater exploitation of the resources and expertise available in the marine energy sector.[18] He expressed disappointment in January 2016 when, despite his lobbying efforts, the Conservative Government approved the construction of a 40-mile stretch of power lines to link the Hinkley Point C power-station and Avonmouth.[19]

Heappey was re-elected at the 2017 general election and served as the Parliamentary Private Secretary to former Secretary of State for Transport Chris Grayling.[20][21] He chaired the Parliamentary Renewable and Sustainable Energy Group and is a Vice President of the Association for Decentralised Energy.

Heappey endorsed Boris Johnson to be leader of the Conservative Party during the 2019 leadership election,[22] and served as his Parliamentary Private Secretary in a job share with Alex Burghart from August to December 2019.[23]

In December 2019, Heappey left the Prime Minister's Office and became Minister for Defence Procurement, a junior ministerial appointment at the Ministry of Defence.[24] In January 2020, Heappey awarded £184m to Ascent Flight Training, a consortium that the National Audit Office had criticised, in September 2019, for its poor performance and failure to meet "contractual obligations".[25]

In February 2020, Heappey was appointed Minister for the Armed Forces in a cabinet reshuffle.[26]

Expenses[edit]

In May 2016, it was reported that Heappey was one of a number of Conservative MPs being investigated by police in the United Kingdom general election, 2015 party spending investigation, for allegedly spending more than the legal limit on constituency election campaign expenses.[27] In May 2017, the Crown Prosecution Service said that while there was evidence of inaccurate spending returns, it did not "meet the test" for further action.[28]

Brexit[edit]

Although sceptical about some aspects of the European Union, he was opposed to Brexit prior to the 2016 EU membership referendum.[29][30] He later voted in favour of the Government's timetable to trigger Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union before the end of March 2017.[31][32] On 15 January 2019 he voted in favour of Theresa May's Brexit deal.[33]

Scottish referendum incident[edit]

During the 2017 general election, he apologised for an incident when meeting the sixth form at Millfield School in Street, Somerset.[34] Heappey asked pupils how they would vote in the proposed second Scottish independence referendum, and a Scottish girl said she would support independence. Some reports assert that Heappey then asked her "Why don’t you fuck off back to Scotland?",[34][35][36][37] but The Guardian reports Heappey's claim that he told her to "fuck off", but did not say "back to Scotland".[38] In his apology, Heappey said that the comment had been intended as a joke.[36]

The Liberal Democrat candidate for Wells, Tessa Munt, condemned Heappey's use of what she called "bullying, racist and abusive language to dismiss a teenage schoolgirl engaging in political debate."[35] In Scotland, Heappey's conduct was described as "appalling behaviour" by the Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon, and as "utterly inappropriate" by Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish Conservative Party.[37] Sturgeon claimed that Heappey's conduct was part of a wider problem with Tories, noting that several Scottish Conservative councillors had been exposed as having expressed racist views on social media.[36]

Personal life[edit]

Heappey lives in London and the Somerset town of Axbridge with his wife Kate and two children.[2][39]

Honours[edit]

General Service Medal 1962 BAR.svg Iraq Medal BAR.svg OSM for Afghanistan w bar.svg


Ribbon Details Year awarded
General Service Medal 1962 BAR.svg General Service Medal With clasp "NORTHERN IRELAND" (2006)
Iraq Medal BAR.svg Iraq Medal 2007
OSM for Afghanistan w bar.svg Operational Service Medal for Afghanistan

With clasp "AFGHANISTAN" (2009)

References[edit]

  1. ^ "No. 61230". The London Gazette. 18 May 2015. p. 9125.
  2. ^ a b c "About James". James Heappey. Archived from the original on 17 May 2017. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  3. ^ "Ministry of Defence". jamesheappey.org.uk.
  4. ^ "Wells". UK Polling Report. Archived from the original on 13 June 2016. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  5. ^ "Wells MP Conservative hopeful James Heappey meets Compton Bishop and Cross Conservatives". Western Daily Press. 11 March 2013. Archived from the original on 18 May 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  6. ^ Carr, Tim (2015). The Politicos Guide to the New House of Commons 2015: Profiles of the New MPs and Analysis of the 2015 General Election Results. Biteback. ISBN 9781849549240.
  7. ^ Carr, Tim (2015). The Politicos Guide to the New House of Commons 2015. Biteback. ISBN 978-1849549233.
  8. ^ a b "James Heappey selected as Conservative candidate for Wells". James Heappey. Retrieved 23 May 2017.
  9. ^ "Election 2015: Wells". BBC. Archived from the original on 3 July 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  10. ^ "Three more Tory Associations select candidates: James Heappey in Wells, Lee Rowley for NE Derbyshire and John Bell for Wirrall South". ConservativeHome. Archived from the original on 11 May 2015. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  11. ^ "Britain in the world". Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). House of Commons. 1 June 2015. col. 402–403. Archived from the original on 20 July 2015. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  12. ^ Cernik, Lizzie (20 October 2015). "James Heappey announced as chairman for All Party Parliamentary Group". Archived from the original on 27 November 2015. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  13. ^ The Committee Office, House of Commons. "House of Commons — Register Of All-Party Parliamentary Groups as at 29 September 2015 : Rural Business". parliament.uk. Archived from the original on 17 May 2017. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  14. ^ "Meet the new Energy and Climate Change Committee". parliament.uk. 15 July 2015. Archived from the original on 31 August 2015. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  15. ^ "House of Commons Votes and Proceedings, Wednesday". parliament.uk. 8 July 2015. Archived from the original on 17 May 2017. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  16. ^ "James Heappey". They Work for You. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  17. ^ "James Heappey: May is right to give Hinkley the green light". ConservativeHome. Archived from the original on 8 October 2016. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  18. ^ Bairstow, Jonny (24 February 2017). "MP says 'Industrial Strategy must exploit marine resources'". Energy Live News. Archived from the original on 26 February 2017. Retrieved 16 May 2017.
  19. ^ "Government approves controversial 40-mile stretch of overhead power-lines in Somerset". ITV. 16 January 2016. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  20. ^ PoliticsHome.com (4 June 2018). "Chris Grayling left red-faced after MP meetings to discuss rail cancellations are cancelled". PoliticsHome.com. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  21. ^ Crace, John (8 January 2019). "Failing Grayling is a method loser worthy of an Oscar | John Crace". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  22. ^ Newton-Browne, Lily. "Wells MP James Heappey backs Boris Johnson as UK's next Prime Minister". Weston Mercury. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  23. ^ "James Heappey appointed Boris Johnson PPS". jamesheappey.org.uk. 5 August 2019.
  24. ^ Burnham-On-Sea.com (17 December 2019). "Burnham-On-Sea MP James Heappey appointed Minister for Defence Procurement". Burnham-On-Sea.com. Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  25. ^ "Flight from Reason". Private Eye (1515): 11.
  26. ^ "Wells MP James Heappey appointed Minister for the Armed Forces". Burnham and Highbridge Weekly News. Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  27. ^ "Election Expenses Exposed". Channel 4 News. 23 June 2016. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  28. ^ "No charges over 2015 Conservative battle bus cases". BBC. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  29. ^ Heappey, James (13 June 2016). "James Heappey: The EU needs major change, but leaving isn't worth the risk". Conservative Home. Archived from the original on 9 April 2017. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  30. ^ Goodenough, Tom (16 February 2016). "Which Tory MPs back Brexit, who doesn't and who is still on the fence?". The Spectator. Archived from the original on 3 February 2017. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  31. ^ "Division 102, The Government's Plan for Brexit — Hansard Online". hansard.parliament.uk. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  32. ^ "MPs back government's Brexit timetable". BBC News. 7 December 2016. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  33. ^ "Brexit: Theresa May's deal is voted down in historic Commons defeat". BBC News. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  34. ^ a b King, Diane (14 May 2017). "Indy supporter told to 'F*** off back to Scotland' by Tory candidate". The Scotsman. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
  35. ^ a b Doyle, Andrew (14 May 2017). "Wells MP tells Millfield 6th former - 'why don't you f*** off back to Scotland'". Somerset Live. Archived from the original on 16 May 2017. Retrieved 14 May 2017.
  36. ^ a b c Kirkaldy, Liam (15 May 2017). "Nicola Sturgeon accuses Tory candidate of "appalling behaviour" after reports he swore at a school child". Holyrood. Archived from the original on 17 May 2017.
  37. ^ a b "Ruth Davidson condemns candidate who swore at schoolgirl". The Herald. 16 May 2017. Archived from the original on 16 May 2017.
  38. ^ Morris, Steven (15 May 2017). "Tory MP swore at Scottish schoolgirl who said she was pro-independence". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 17 May 2017.
  39. ^ "IPSA". GOV.UK. Retrieved 17 September 2018.

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Tessa Munt
Member of Parliament
for Wells

2015–present
Incumbent
Political offices
Preceded by
Andrew Bowie
Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Prime Minister
Serving with Alex Burghart

2019
Succeeded by
Trudy Harrison
Preceded by
Anne-Marie Trevelyan
Minister for Defence Procurement
2019–2020
Succeeded by
Jeremy Quin
Preceded by
Anne-Marie Trevelyan
as Minister of State
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Armed Forces
2020–present
Incumbent