May 20, 2016
Burnham's MP holds back decision on EU vote until after local debate

Burnham-On-Sea's MP James Heappey won't reveal which way he will be voting in next month's EU referendum until after a local debate is held on the issue in Highbridge.

James Heappey
declined to tell the BBC Daily Politics show presenter Andrew Neil about his voting intentions during an interview on Friday (May 20th), except to say that he made up his mind two weeks ago and will inform constituents after an upcoming series of local public debates about the EU issue to be held during June.

One of his local EU debates will be held in Highbridge Community Hall on June 16th, chaired by Mr Heappey, where arguments on both sides will be debated.

The MP said he thinks the UK will vote to remain in the EU, but that the wind in the south west of England and the Burnham-On-Sea area is "probably leaning out".

"Initially I was genuinely undecided but the great luxury of being in parliament is that I get to walk through the voting lobbies most evenings with the cabinet and leading campaigners on both sides of the debate meant that I was able to get answered some of the questions I had and come to my own conclusion," he said.

"But the reality for my constituents is that they don't have that sort of access to those sorts of people so I have set myself to deliver the best quality debate I can in my constituency and then once those are all done I will come clean on what I am thinking."

He added: "People have a right to know how their MP is going to vote in this - it's a referendum so my vote is worth no more than any of my constituents but I think they will want to know how I will vote and also no-one likes the sort of person who claims to have supported Leicester City all season once they've won but I think it's important to get my mark out there before the vote."

Asked whether he is waiting to see 'which way the wind blows' in the constituency, he responded: "No, I am pretty clear which way the wind is blowing in my constituency. I think that my constituency and the south west region is probably 'leaning out' and actually one of the things that bothers me most about the referendum is that it's likely there will be regions that vote one way while the country as a whole votes another. That creates a challenge to bring everyone together afterwards."

"How I vote is really immaterial, this is about my constituents."

He went on to predict that he "suspects the country will vote to remain."


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