Burnham-On-Sea.com is profiling the local General Election candidates in the run-up to December 12th and here we speak to the Conservatives’ James Heappey…

James has served as MP from 2015-2019 in the Wells constituency which includes Burnham and Highbridge, and is hoping to retain the parliamentary seat this week.

With Brexit the all-important buzzword for this year’s election, we asked James whether he is committed to Brexit given that he voted ‘remain’ in the 2016 referendum.

“I have considered myself bound by the result of referendum in everything I’ve done on your behalf in Parliament. The Wells Constituency, and the country, voted to leave the EU and in 2017 you gave me a clear mandate to go to Westminster and deliver that result on your behalf. I am as frustrated as anyone that this last Parliament has been unable, or more accurately unwilling, to deliver Brexit. However, if we can return a Conservative majority government on Thursday, we can finally break the stalemate and we will be out by the end of next month.”

As the election campaign enters its final hours, after many weeks of canvassing for the candidates, we asked what feedback James has been getting from voters out on the doorsteps of Burnham and Highbridge.

He says: “People understand the need for a General Election and whilst they’re clearly frustrated at the lack of progress on Brexit, they’re pleased to have the power back in their hands. They understand the high stakes in this election as we determine not only our route forward on Brexit but also whether we want another hung parliament and/or a government led by Jeremy Corbyn. The people of Burnham and Highbridge seem very certain in their dislike of Corbyn, hung parliaments and there’s absolutely no appetite for a second referendum.”

He adds: “I’ve got a plan for what needs to be delivered in our area based on the conversations I’ve had with local people, businesses and campaign groups over the last four years. Voting Conservative means that this plan for more investment in our schools and colleges; better mental healthcare; filling clinician vacancies in our local NHS; improved digital infrastructure; improvements to local road and rail connections; and a focus on clean technologies as we grow Somerset’s economy; can be delivered.”

While Brexit has undoubtedly been the hot topic out on the election trail, James says there are several other key local issues for voters in Burnham and Highbridge.

He says: “It’s impossible to pretend that most conversations on the doorstep haven’t focussed on Brexit but there are some key issues that I know we must tackle over the next year. Our high streets need more support to attract new retailers and we need to fill the vacancies at the town’s medical practises and also at the Community Hospital. I was working on both before the General Election and, if returned, I’ll continue to push Government over them in the new parliament.”

Asked how confident he is of winning this Thursday, he said: “This is the most important election of our lifetimes. The choice is between another hung parliament with Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister and further referendums on Scottish Independence and Brexit. Or we choose a Conservative majority government that can get Brexit done and move our country forward so that we can focus on your real priorities and unleash our country’s true potential. With the stakes so high, I’m taking nothing for granted. We’ll be out talking to as many voters as we can reach all the way through to the moment the polls close.”

“The country simply cannot afford to wake up on Friday morning to see Jeremy Corbyn on his way up Downing Street. We in the Wells Constituency have the power to shape the outcome of this election and I hope that people will choose to support me so that we can finally deliver Brexit and move our country on.”