James Heappey


James Stephen Heappey[1] (born 30 January 1981) is a British politician serving as Minister of State for the Armed Forces since 2022.[2] A member of the Conservative Party, he has served as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Wells in Somerset since 2015.

James Heappey
Official portrait, 2020
Minister of State for the Armed Forces[a]
Assumed office
13 February 2020
Prime MinisterBoris Johnson
Liz Truss
Rishi Sunak
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 42)
Nailsea, England, UK
Political partyConservative
SpouseKate Heappey
EducationUniversity of Birmingham (BA)
Royal Military Academy Sandhurst
WebsiteOfficial website
Military service
AllegianceUnited Kingdom
Branch/serviceBritish Army
Years of service2004–2012
UnitRoyal Gloucestershire, Berkshire and Wiltshire Regiment
The Rifles
Battles/warsWar in Afghanistan
Iraq War

He was Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Armed Forces from 2020 to 2022, before being promoted to Minister of State by Prime Minister Boris Johnson in July 2022. In September 2022, Heappey was appointed to the larger portfolio of Armed Forces and Veterans' Minister and was given the right to attend Cabinet by new Prime Minister Liz Truss. In October 2022, new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak appointed Heappey as Minister of State for the Armed Forces, a junior ministerial role outside of Cabinet, and removed his responsibilities as Veterans' Minister. Before entering politics he was an officer in the British Army.

Early life Edit

Heappey was born on 30 January 1981 and spent his early years in Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, before moving to Nailsea, Somerset. He was privately educated at Queen Elizabeth's Hospital in Bristol and graduated in political science from the University of Birmingham.[3][4]

Military career Edit

Heappey wearing his military medals in 2022

Following university, Heappey attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.[5] On 7 August 2004, he was commissioned in the British Army as a second lieutenant with seniority in that rank from 11 August 2001.[6] As a university graduate, he was immediately promoted to lieutenant on 7 August 2004 with seniority from 11 August 2003.[6] He was promoted to captain on 7 February 2007.[7] Having attended Staff College, he was promoted to major on 31 July 2012.[8]

He 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.[9] He also served in Kenya, and in 2011 he was posted to the Ministry of Defence in London,[10] where he worked as executive officer on the General Staff.[11] He retired from the British Army on 2 November 2012 with the rank of major.[12]

After leaving the British Army, he worked as a researcher for the Conservative MP for North Somerset, Liam Fox.[11]

Political career Edit

Heappey was first elected as the Member of Parliament (MP) for Wells in the 2015 general election,[13] having been selected as the Conservative Prospective Parliamentary Candidate two years earlier.[14] 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.[15]

In October 2015, Heappey succeeded Nick de Bois as the Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for the UK Events Industry.[16] 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.[17]

From July 2015[18][19] to October 2016, Heappey served on the House of Commons' Energy and Climate Change Select Committee.[20] 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.[21] Heappey has also called for greater exploitation of the resources and expertise available in the marine energy sector.[22] 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.[23]

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.[24] 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.[25]

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.[26][27] He chaired the Parliamentary Renewable and Sustainable Energy Group and is a Vice President of the Association for Decentralised Energy.

Although sceptical about some aspects of the European Union, he was opposed to Brexit prior to the 2016 EU membership referendum.[28][29] 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.[30][31] On 15 January 2019 he voted in favour of Theresa May's Brexit deal.[32]

Heappey endorsed Boris Johnson to be leader of the Conservative Party during the 2019 leadership election,[33] and served as his Parliamentary Private Secretary in a job share with Alex Burghart from August to December 2019.[34]

In December 2019, Heappey left the Prime Minister's Office and became Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Defence Procurement, a junior ministerial appointment at the Ministry of Defence.[35] 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".[36]

In February 2020, Johnson appointed Heappey Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Armed Forces as part of a cabinet reshuffle.[37]

In March 2022, Heappey admitted on LBC that despite earning £106,619 a year from his parliamentary salary he was "pretty worried" about going into his overdraft each month.[38][39]

In April 2022, Heappey said it was legitimate during the 2022 Russian invasion for Ukraine to use British supplied weapons for strikes onto Russian territory.[40]

In July 2022, Heappey was promoted to Minister of State by Johnson.[41] That same month he announced his support for Liz Truss in the Conservative leadership election.[42] In September 2022, following Truss's election, Heappey was re-appointed as a Minister of State in the Ministry of Defence as the Minister for the Armed Forces and Veterans; he was also given the right to attend Truss's Cabinet as part of his role.[43] He was appointed to the Privy Council entitling him to the prefix "The Right Honourable" for life.[44] In October 2022, Heappey said he would resign if Truss reneged on a pledge to raise defence spending to 3% of GDP by 2030.[45]

In October 2022, following Truss's resignation as leader of the Conservative Party, Heappey announced his support for Rishi Sunak, as the next leader of the Conservative Party, despite Sunak's refusal to commit to raise defence spending to 3% of GDP by 2030.[46][47]

Heappey was re-appointed Minister of State for the Armed Forces by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak on 26 October 2022 but lost the role of Veterans Minister and the right to attend Cabinet to Johnny Mercer.[48]

On 17 May 2023, he was reselected for the next general election.[49]

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.[50] 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 asserted that Heappey then asked her "Why don’t you fuck off back to Scotland?",[50][51][52][53] but The Guardian reported Heappey's statement that he told her to "fuck off", but did not say "back to Scotland".[54] In his apology, Heappey said that the comment had been intended as a joke.[52]

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."[51] 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.[53][52]

Parliamentary Expenses Edit

Since the beginning of the current Parliament, Heappey has declared three donations totalling £10,500. The largest single item Mr Heappey declared was a donation worth £5,000 from the businessman, and climate change denier, Neil Record.[55][56]

Heappey also recorded a donations of £2,500 from the Dunchurch Lodge Stud Company and £3,000 from James Drummond.[56]

Personal life Edit

Heappey lives in London and the Somerset town of Axbridge with his wife Kate and two children.[10][57]

His brother Matthew works in financial services and is the Conservative prospective parliamentary candidate for Bath at the next general election.[58][59]

Honours Edit


Ribbon Description Notes
  Operational Service Medal for Afghanistan
  General Service Medal
  Iraq Medal
  Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal
  • 2012
  • UK Version of this Medal
  Accumulated Campaign Service Medal
  • 24 Months Accumulated Campaign Service

Notes Edit

  1. ^ Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Armed Forces from February 2020 to July 2022; Minister of State for the Armed Forces and Veterans from September to October 2022; he attended Cabinet during the premiership of Liz Truss

References Edit

  1. ^ "No. 61230". The London Gazette. 18 May 2015. p. 9125.
  2. ^ "Ministry of Defence". jamesheappey.org.uk.
  3. ^ "Wells". UK Polling Report. Archived from the original on 13 June 2016. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  4. ^ "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.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ a b "No. 57415". The London Gazette (Supplement). 21 September 2004. p. 11890.
  7. ^ "No. 58245". The London Gazette (Supplement). 13 February 2007. p. 2080.
  8. ^ "No. 60224". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 July 2012. pp. 14681–14683.
  9. ^ Carr, Tim (2015). The Politicos Guide to the New House of Commons 2015. Biteback. ISBN 978-1849549233.
  10. ^ a b "About James". James Heappey. Archived from the original on 17 May 2017. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  11. ^ a b "James Heappey selected as Conservative candidate for Wells". James Heappey. Retrieved 23 May 2017.
  12. ^ "No. 60319". The London Gazette (Supplement). 6 November 2012. p. 21260.
  13. ^ "Election 2015: Wells". BBC. Archived from the original on 3 July 2015. Retrieved 8 May 2015.
  14. ^ "Three more Tory Associations select candidates: James Heappey in Wells, Lee Rowley for NE Derbyshire and John Bell for Wirrall South". ConservativeHome. 4 February 2013. Archived from the original on 11 May 2015. Retrieved 4 February 2013.
  15. ^ "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.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ "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.
  19. ^ "House of Commons Votes and Proceedings, Wednesday". parliament.uk. 8 July 2015. Archived from the original on 17 May 2017. Retrieved 17 May 2017.
  20. ^ "James Heappey". They Work for You. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  21. ^ "James Heappey: May is right to give Hinkley the green light". ConservativeHome. 15 September 2016. Archived from the original on 8 October 2016. Retrieved 15 September 2016.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ "Government approves controversial 40-mile stretch of overhead power-lines in Somerset". ITV News. 16 January 2016. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  24. ^ "Election Expenses Exposed". Channel 4 News. 23 June 2016. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  25. ^ "No charges over 2015 Conservative battle bus cases". BBC News. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  26. ^ "Chris Grayling left red-faced after MP meetings to discuss rail cancellations are cancelled". PoliticsHome.com. 4 June 2018. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  27. ^ Crace, John (8 January 2019). "Failing Grayling is a method loser worthy of an Oscar". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 10 July 2019.
  28. ^ 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.
  29. ^ 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.
  30. ^ "Division 102, The Government's Plan for Brexit — Hansard Online". hansard.parliament.uk. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  31. ^ "MPs back government's Brexit timetable". BBC News. 7 December 2016. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  32. ^ "Brexit: Theresa May's deal is voted down in historic Commons defeat". BBC News. Retrieved 16 January 2019.
  33. ^ Newton-Browne, Lily (6 June 2019). "Wells MP James Heappey backs Boris Johnson as UK's next Prime Minister". Weston Mercury. Archived from the original on 1 August 2019. Retrieved 1 August 2019.
  34. ^ "James Heappey appointed Boris Johnson PPS". jamesheappey.org.uk. 5 August 2019.
  35. ^ 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.
  36. ^ "Flight from Reason". Private Eye (1515): 11.
  37. ^ "Wells MP James Heappey appointed Minister for the Armed Forces". Burnham and Highbridge Weekly News. Retrieved 20 February 2020.
  38. ^ Bloom, Dan; Shepherd, Dave (12 April 2022). "MP on £106K said: 'I'm pretty worried about my overdraft'". SomersetLive. Retrieved 7 September 2022.
  39. ^ "Tory MP who earns £106k a year says he's worried about going into his overdraft". The Independent. 12 April 2022. Retrieved 7 September 2022.
  40. ^ Elgot, Jessica (26 April 2022). "Minister backs Ukraine carrying out Russia strikes with British weapons". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 April 2022.
  41. ^ "Somerset MP handed Ministry of Defence role by Boris Johnson".
  42. ^ Burnham-On-Sea.com (14 July 2022). "Burnham-On-Sea's MP reveals how he'll vote in Tory leadership election". Burnham-On-Sea.com. Retrieved 7 September 2022.
  43. ^ Burnham-On-Sea.com (6 September 2022). "Burnham's MP retains Cabinet position from new Prime Minister Liz Truss". Burnham-On-Sea.com. Retrieved 7 September 2022.
  44. ^ "Orders for 13 September 2022" (PDF). Privy Council Office. Archived from the original (PDF) on 23 September 2022. Retrieved 14 September 2022.
  45. ^ Cecil, Nicholas (18 October 2022). "Minister threatens to quit in new blow to Liz Truss". Evening Standard. Retrieved 26 October 2022.
  46. ^ Sheridan, Danielle (24 October 2022). "Ben Wallace won't quit despite Rishi Sunak's refusal to commit to defence spending target". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 26 October 2022.
  47. ^ Burnham-On-Sea.com (23 October 2022). "Burnham-On-Sea's MP backs Rishi Sunak as new Prime Minister". Burnham-On-Sea.com. Retrieved 26 October 2022.
  48. ^ "Ministerial Appointments commencing: 25 October 2022". GOV.UK. Retrieved 26 October 2022.
  49. ^ Burnham-On-Sea.com (16 May 2023). "James Heappey MP re-selected as candidate for next election". Burnham-On-Sea.com. Retrieved 17 May 2023.
  50. ^ 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.
  51. ^ 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.
  52. ^ 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.
  53. ^ a b "Ruth Davidson condemns candidate who swore at schoolgirl". The Herald. 16 May 2017. Archived from the original on 16 May 2017.
  54. ^ 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.
  55. ^ "Multi-millionaire backers of climate change denial think-tank revealed". The Independent. 3 September 2014. Retrieved 9 January 2023.
  56. ^ a b "Golf club membership, Wimbledon tickets and more: Somerset MPs' financial interests updated". Somerset County Gazette. Retrieved 9 January 2023.
  57. ^ "IPSA". GOV.UK. Retrieved 17 September 2018.
  58. ^ "Conservatives choose candidate for next General Election". Bath Conservatives. 28 May 2022. Retrieved 5 June 2023.
  59. ^ "About Matt Heappey". Matt Heappey. Retrieved 8 August 2023.

External links Edit

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

Political offices
Preceded by Parliamentary Private Secretary to the Prime Minister
Serving with Alex Burghart

Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister for Defence Procurement
Succeeded by
Preceded byas Minister of State Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Armed Forces
Preceded by Minister of State for Veterans' Affairs