WELLS MP James Heappey has stepped down as the armed forces minister.

Earlier this month, Mr Heappey announced he will be stepping down from politics, and outlined his intentions to resign from his ministerial post.

On Tuesday, February 27, the Conservative MP followed through on his intentions ahead of exiting Parliament at the general election.

In a thread posted to X, he wrote: “I’ve loved every minute as armed forces minister in this incredible department.

“Our Armed Forces & MoD civil servants are the very best of us.

“Representing them in Parliament and around the world over last 4.5 years has been an amazing privilege.”

But he said “the work isn’t done” in backing Ukraine, saying the UK “must continue to lead the world in the breadth and bravery of our support”.

Mr Sunak thanked Mr Heappey for his “invaluable role in implementing the Government’s defence agenda”.

“You have made an important contribution to Government and your support to consecutive Conservative administrations at the Ministry of Defence has been commendable,” the Prime Minister wrote in a letter.

Mr Heappey had reportedly been on “resignation watch” from his ministerial role after telling colleagues privately that he was unhappy about the level of defence spending.

The former soldier issued a departing plea this week for the defence spending target of 2.5% of GDP to be “achieved urgently”.

During a 10-year career in the Rifles, Mr Heappey served in Afghanistan, Iraq, Northern Ireland and Kenya.

He had been hotly tipped to succeed Ben Wallace as defence secretary following his resignation last year.

But Mr Sunak instead gave the Cabinet post to Grant Shapps, who has no military experience.

Leo Docherty will replace Mr Heappey as armed forces minister.

James Heappey has served as the Member of Parliament for Wells since 2015 – having won three consecutive general elections – and as Minister for the Armed Forces in His Majesty’s Government for the past four-and-a-half years.

Mr Heappey described the decision to step away from politics as “painful” but believes it is time to prioritise his family and pursue another career.

He added: “After much reflection, I have taken the painful decision not to stand as a candidate in the next general election.

“The opportunity to serve the communities within the Wells Constituency for the last nine years has been the greatest honour of my life. However, I have concluded now is the time to step away from politics.

“Until the next election, my constituents can be assured of my full commitment to our community.

"I will make each of my remaining days in Westminster count in the service of my amazing constituency and I shall be forever grateful to my constituents for bestowing on me the opportunity to do so.

“In the meantime, I will support Rishi Sunak as our party leader and Prime Minister in Government, until such time as he wishes me to step down, and then from the backbenches.”