There’s a new man on the block and he’s been making waves on the airwaves. Compared to some of the bumbling from more senior politicians, James Heappey, Minister for the Armed Forces, has been a breath of fresh air during the last few days of fraught commentary on the withdrawal from Afghanistan.
He told Nick Ferrari on LBC that the thought of leaving behind Afghan nationals who helped Britain during the war keeps him “awake at night”. Like his boss, Ben Wallace, the defence minister, Heappey sounds genuine compared to some of the more pious politicians.
He has also sought to assure voters about the migration of asylum seekers, telling the Today programme that rigorous checks at Kabul airport are in place to block people who want to “harm us”.
Like his Tory colleagues, Tom Tugendhat and Johnny Mercer, Heappey served in Afghanistan (twice!) as a major in the Rifles. He is a relative newcomer to Westminster having been elected as MP for Wells in 2015. Before taking his seat in the Commons, Heappey was a researcher for Liam Fox – an ex-military man himself.
But Heappey has not always been so sensibble with words. He got into deep trouble in 2017 when he told a Scottish schoolgirl to “f**k off” when she said she would vote for Scottish independence, with then Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davison calling the remarks “utterly inappropriate”. He seems to have worked on his on-camera image since then, as well as working his way up the MoD ranks.
We will be watching Heappey’s career with interest.