Somerset MP James Heappey will stand down at next general election

WELLS MP James Heappey – whose constituency includes Glastonbury and the Mendips – will not stand at the next general election.

The Armed Forces Minister, who has represented the constituency for the Conservatives since 2015, announced the decision today in a letter to John Osman, chair of the Wells & Mendip Hills Conservative Association, saying he has chosen to “prioritise my family and pursue a different career”.

“After much reflection, I am afraid I have taken the painful decision not to stand as a candidate in the forthcoming general election,” Mr Heappey said.

He said “a great deal in my life has changed over the last few years” and he had concluded “now is the time to step away from politics”.

“The opportunity to serve the communities within the Wells constituency for the last nine years has been the greatest honour of my life,” the former Army officer went on.

“For all the derision – plenty of it deserved – politics remains a vital endeavour in which just one person from each community in our country sits in our parliament with the opportunity to speak up for those they represent and to shape our country for the better.

“I hope that in my time as a member of parliament, I have been able to do both.”

READ MORE: General election polling – what could happen where YOU live?

The news comes the day after fellow Conservative – and former minister – Brandon Lewis (Con, Great Yarmouth), also announced he will not stand at the next general election, and in the same week former prime minister Theresa May also revealed she was stepping down.

Currently, the total number of Conservative MPs to have confirmed they will not stand at the next election stands at more than 60.

It comes as the party looks at a deficit of around 20 points in most general election polls, suggesting many could lose their seats when the country votes this year.

Former MP Tessa Munt is set to fight the new Wells seat for the Liberal Democrats

Former MP Tessa Munt is set to fight the new Wells seat for the Liberal Democrats

In Wells, which will become the Wells and Mendip Hills constituency at the next poll, former Lib Dem MP Tessa Munt has been selected as the candidate.

Current polling by Electoral Calculus (EC) for the new constituency shows the Lib Dems with a 56% chance of winning the seat, the Conservatives 38%.

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I am the editor in chief of Blackmore Vale media, which includes the New Blackmore Vale, New Stour & Avon, Salisbury & Avon Gazette and the Purbeck Gazette, having been a reporter for some 20 years. In my spare time, I am a festival lover, with a particular focus on Glastonbury. I live in Somerset with my wife and two children.