James Stephen Heappey MP (born 30 January 1981) is a British Conservative Party politician and former British Army officer. He has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Wells in Somerset since 2015. He is currently Parliamentary Private Secretary to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
|Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Prime Minister|
|Assumed office |
4 August 2019
Serving with Alex Burghart
|Prime Minister||Boris Johnson|
|Preceded by||Andrew Bowie|
|Member of Parliament|
|Assumed office |
8 May 2015
|Preceded by||Tessa Munt|
|Born||30 January 1981|
Nailsea, Somerset, England
|Education||Queen Elizabeth's Hospital|
|Alma mater||University of Birmingham|
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.
Following university, Heappey attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. 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 Helmund Province in 2009. He also served in Kenya, and in 2011 he was posted to the Ministry of Defence in London, where he worked as executive officer on the General Staff and was promoted to Major in 2012. After leaving the British Army, he worked as a researcher for the Conservative MP for North Somerset Liam Fox.
Heappey was first elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Wells in the 2015 general election, having been selected as the Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate two years earlier. 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.
In October 2015, Heappey succeeded Nick de Bois as the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the UK Events Industry. 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.
From July 2015 to October 2016, Heappey served on the House of Commons' Energy and Climate Change Select Committee. 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. Heappey has also called for greater exploitation of the resources and expertise available in the marine energy sector. 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.
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. He chaired the Parliamentary Renewable and Sustainable Energy Group and is a Vice President of the Association for Decentralised Energy.
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. 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.
Although sceptical about some aspects of the European Union, he was opposed to Brexit prior to the 2016 EU membership referendum. 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. On 15 January 2019 he voted in favour of Theresa May’s Brexit deal.
Scottish referendum incidentEdit
During the 2017 general election, he apologised for an incident when meeting the sixth form at Millfield School in Street, Somerset. 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?", but The Guardian reports Heappey's claim that he told her to "fuck off", but did not say "back to Scotland". In his apology, Heappey said that the comment had been intended as a joke.
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." 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. 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.
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