Michael’s Adoption Meeting

On Friday 28th April Michael was unanimously adopted by Sevenoaks Conservatives to stand as their Parliamentary Candidate in the forthcoming General Election.  Here is the full text of his speech to the members at this special meeting.

Mr Chairman, Friends

They say that as you get older time goes by quicker.  But can it really have been only two years ago that I last sought adoption as your General Election candidate?

Next week marks my 20th year as your Member of Parliament since you first did me that enormous honour of choosing me as your candidate.  That was five elections ago.  But I believe this coming election is by far the most important of the six that I will have fought on your behalf.

We need to win it to secure strong and stable leadership to steer this country through Brexit and beyond.   A successful Brexit, a good deal in Brussels, a full and fair agreement with the other 27 members of the European Union, is vital for our jobs, for the businesses here that trade with Europe, for the future prospects of our children.

This election isn’t about voting for a hard Brexit or for a soft Brexit.  Brexit has been decided.  We each made up our minds on that last summer.  The issue now for the country to decide is how best to negotiate it successfully.

That means giving the Prime Minister and our government a proper majority to navigate past the extreme views on either side – those who simply want to stop Brexit altogether, and those who want us completely out whatever the consequences at midnight on 31st March 2019 and have nothing to do with Europe ever again.

We need an agreement with the rest of the EU that does two things: that protects our existing trade with Europe, the business done on the continent by hundreds of firms in Sevenoaks and Swanley, while we search for the huge new opportunities in new markets that Brexit offers us; and one that ensures that we continue to co-operate with other European countries on security, the challenges of terrorism, of mass migration across the Mediterranean, of Russian aggression.  Much of that co-operation, of course, depends upon our membership of NATO, not the EU, but some of does depend on the EU, its agencies and Treaties.  It’s important our police, intelligence and security services continue to work together; it’s also important that we are able to secure the return of fugitives from our justice and that we return fugitives here to other European countries too.

So we seek a new partnership, a deep and special partnership, with the European Union, one that covers economic and security co-operation with the rest of Europe.

But the other parties are blocking that.  We only have a majority of 12 in the House of Commons.   Labour are not ruling out another referendum, and may vote against the final deal.  The Liberal Democrats are threatening to use their peers to block legislation in the House of Lords.  The Scottish Nationalists want to use the Brexit negotiations as a lever to break up our United Kingdom.  That’s what Theresa May means by a coalition of chaos.

To deal with it, to stop so many others frustrating the will of the people, clearly expressed last June, we need a fresh mandate.  And we need to give Theresa May the authority she needs to get the right deal for Britain.

Theresa May herself, remember, voted to remain.  But she has taken on the challenge of Brexit, and she has the integrity, the toughness and the experience to negotiate our way through this, provided we can give her the authority she needs.  Indeed, in tackling this challenge with determination and principle, she reminds me of another female party leader: cometh the hour, again, cometh the woman.

But this election isn’t just about Brexit.  I began by referring to “Brexit and beyond”.  It’s also about building a stronger, fairer Britain.

It’s about looking after the weak and the “just about managing”.  It’s about extending choice and opportunity for all: more grammar schools, a better deal for consumers, more funding for the NHS and for social care..

It’s about strengthening, not undermining our Union here of the United Kingdom.  We will be looking for powers that can be returned from Brussels and then handed further down, to the assemblies in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.

It’s also about maintaining strong defences.  Leading in NATO, renewing our independent nuclear deterrent, stepping up in the world to defend fragile democracies and the values that we share in common.

When it comes to defence, Jeremy Corbyn is no joke.  He’s perfectly sincere: he’s simply a pacifist, unable and unwilling to defend this country properly.  He’s always voted against nuclear weapons, he’s questioned our troop deployments this month to Estonia and Poland, he’s even refused to back RAF strikes against terrorists threatening attacks on our streets here and in western Europe.

Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour Party he leads are a risk to national security.  They’re also a danger to our allies: our partnership with the United States, our work in NATO with France, our membership of the 67-country counter-Daesh coalition.

At the beginning I said what an honour it was to represent this wonderful constituency.  Every day I walk into Parliament I remember that it was you who chose me, and who have worked tirelessly to re-elect me.  But I’m standing again because there’s also more to do here, in Sevenoaks, in Swanley, in Westerham, in our villages.

We’ve finally got our grammar school annexe, after years of campaigning.  But it’s only for girls.  We need grammar school places here in Sevenoaks for boys too, in order to cut the time and cost for so many of travelling back and forward to Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells.  Already I’m in discussion with a boys’ grammar to prepare that case.

We’ve done well on unemployment.  It’s now under 1 per cent here, putting us in the top 50 or so of 650 constituencies.  Only 70 under-25s are on Jobseekers.  But we should now be more ambitious: there shouldn’t be any youngster on the benefit system when we have so many college places and apprenticeships and so much training to offer.

Broadband has now improved: we have 92% coverage.  But we need that coverage at 100 per cent, ensuring everybody working from home, every village, every company on our business parks have the high speeds they need: I’ll go on working with our team at Kent County Council to get this done.

The Green Belt always needs protection.  Our district councillors are under constant pressure, and not just from developers: there are other bodies and requirements, for example to make more provision for travellers, being heaped upon them.  I will go on campaigning with them to make sure new development is directed to brownfield sites.

Rail commuters now get better compensation for delays, and more services like wi-fi.  But, after innumerable meetings with SouthEastern management and with successive Rail Ministers, we still need more capacity on our trains and we need the easier ticketing that Oyster can provide.  I will go on with my Oyster campaign too.

Finally, there’s business.  If our young people are to have a choice whether to commute or not, they need jobs here too.  Already our government has done much for small businesses: cutting tax and business rates.  But red tape continues to appear from nowhere (or usually the EU), and we must keep on deregulating.  We also need to encourage more of our very small companies to export, like the company I visited on Chaucer Business Park, Kemsing, just last Friday.

We can only do these things as a Government with a good majority and a proper mandate.  We can only deliver them as a team: MP and councillors working together.  I look forward to campaigning tomorrow morning with our magnificent Kent county council candidates: David, Margaret, Michael, Nick and Roger.

So our work starts tonight.  And if I may offer one word of advice: ignore the polls.  If you think you know the outcome, tell me who’s lying second here, in this constituency ?    Last time it was UKIP; the two elections before that it was the Lib Dems; my first two elections it was Labour.  Who’s second this time I have no idea and neither really does anybody else.

The only way to be sure of strong and stable leadership, is to get out there and get our message across: that strong and stable leadership under Theresa May and the Conservatives can deliver a successful Brexit and a stronger, fairer Britain beyond.   Let’s give her the majority she needs by working for it here in Sevenoaks.

Once again, I ask for your support.

Michael calls for ‘complete transparency’ on local bank closure


Michael has written to Lloyds Banking Group to call for ‘complete transparency’ regarding their recent announced closure of the branch in New Ash Green.

In the letter, Michael asks what consultations Lloyds has held with its customers and businesses before announcing the closure, scheduled for 5th July 2017. He writes: ‘I am concerned that my constituents have not been sufficiently consulted before the decision was taken by Lloyds Banking Group to close their local branch’.

Michael has urged Lloyds to consider the ‘drastic impact’ the closure would have on personal customers, particularly elderly customers, and local businesses in the letter.

He also raises questions about the viability of the alternative banking services recommended by Lloyds: ‘There should be complete transparency surrounding the decision to close a local branch and a comprehensive impact assessment should be published with sufficient consideration of the alternatives available’.

Cllr Claire Pearsall delivered a petition to save the Lloyds Bank branch in New Ash Green to Michael. The petition has over 900 signatures. Michael has sent the petition on to Lloyds Banking Group along with a copy of his letter.

‘Our railways need to put passengers first’, says Michael

Michael has personally handed his recommendations for the new South Eastern rail franchise to the Transport Secretary Chris Grayling MP.

His letter, which was written in conjunction with his official response to the public consultation and can be accessed here, argues for a ‘railway system that works for everyone’.

In the nine-page letter, Michael argues: ‘For too long, services on the South Eastern rail network have been unacceptably poor […] Improved capacity, customer service, and payment systems are all welcome steps, but I believe the new arrangements need to go further.  Our railways need to start putting passengers first’.

Michael calls for improved capacity, improved compensation arrangements, and improved connectivity on South Eastern trains, and outlines numerous arguments for the extension of the Oyster network to Sevenoaks.


Michael said: ‘I have responded to the public consultation to make the case for passengers in Sevenoaks and Swanley.  Discussions on the new rail franchise provide a great opportunity to push for better services on our railways and a better deal for passengers: more space, improved compensation arrangements, and the extension of the Oyster network.  I encourage constituents to visit the public consultation site and make sure their views are heard before the consultation closes on 23 May’.

The public consultation form can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/604904/south-eastern-rail-franchise-public-consultation.pdf

Michael Impressed by Global Reach of Small Business


Michael recently visited Old St Andrews, a small firm that packages Scotch Whiskies, gins, and vodka.

He was met by the Managing Director, Bob Gorton, and other members of the office and warehouse team.  He was given a private tour and learnt more about the business.

MF meeting OStA workers in the warehouse packaging bottles

Old St Andrews is a small company located in Kemsing but it has clients all over the world, which Bob marks with little red dots on a world map in his office.  It exports vodka to Poland, gin to Europe, Scotch Whisky to Turkey, and Kosher whisky to Israel. Around 80 per cent of its business is in exports, and it is ranked as one of the best businesses on Amazon.


Michael said: ‘I was surprised at how varied the firm’s product range is.  There is a real story here.  This small business works from tiny premises in a local business Park, but it is an impressive globally-recognised brand.  I spoke with Bob about the firm’s future in uncertain times and how he will still be able to employ the overseas skills he needs.  I am committed to ensuring that businesses like Old St Andrews are able to flourish, trading inside and outside the European Union.’

Sevenoaks MP praises local businesses ahead of sixth annual Sevenoaks Business Show

Michael has today praised local businesses ahead of the sixth annual Sevenoaks Business Show.

The local MP, who is also Patron of Sevenoaks Town Partnership, opened the fifth annual Sevenoaks Business Show last year, and will be meeting with a number of local businesses on his constituency visit this Friday.

Michael’s visit comes one week after new unemployment figures showed that Sevenoaks is among the constituencies with the lowest unemployment rate in the country.  The total number of unemployed claimants in Sevenoaks in March 2017 was 395, representing a decrease of 19 per cent since 2015 and of 67 per cent since 2010.

Michael said: ‘It’s a great time to be in business in Sevenoaks.  Unemployment remains at an historic low, more people are finding full time jobs, wages have grown yet again, and there are over 700 more businesses in Sevenoaks than there were in 2010.’

Public Consultation on Future Rail Services

A public consultation is currently underway on the future of the South Eastern network.  Michael will be submitting his response to the consultation, and is encouraging his constituents to ‘have their say’.

Michael said: ‘The public consultation over the new franchise is a great opportunity to lobby for the improvements our https://slotspie.com/ rail services need.  I am currently drafting my submission to lobby for the extension of the Oyster network, for improved customer services, and for more space for passengers.  This is a chance for constituents to have their say over the future of the South Eastern network and let the Government know what improvements they most want to see’.

The consultation form can be accessed here: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/604904/south-eastern-rail-franchise-public-consultation.pdf

New Lower Thames Crossing ‘a stamp of confidence’, says Sevenoaks MP

Michael has welcomed the Department of Transport’s recent announcement regarding the new Lower Thames Crossing.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced that the Government’s preferred route for a new Lower Thames Crossing is east of Gravesend and Tilbury.  The development could create more than 6,000 jobs and boost the economy by over £8 billion.

The Transport Secretary also committed to investing £10 million to improve traffic flow at the existing Dartford crossing.  Highways England estimates that the Lower Thames Crossing will cost up to £6.2 billion to develop.

Michael said: ‘Increasing capacity across the Thames will unlock huge economic potential.  The proposals strike a balance between minimising the impacts on local communities and ensuring value for taxpayers’ money.  There is now greater potential for investment opportunities, for new housing, and for businesses to grow, which will create even more employment opportunities in the region.  This is a stamp of confidence for Kent, but I will continue to make representations on behalf of my constituents as the development progresses.’

Michael Welcomes New Local Unemployment Figures

Sir Michael Fallon MP has welcomed new figures showing that unemployment in Sevenoaks remains at an historic low.

The figures, released by the Office National Statistics and Nomis database, show that unemployment in Sevenoaks has decreased by 63 per cent since 2010 and 11 per cent since May 2015.  Sevenoaks has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country.

Michael said: ‘These figures reflect a very robust local economy as we enter the Brexit negotiations.  A country that works for everyone enables people the security of employment and the ability to provide for their family.  I will continue to keep a close eye on our unemployment rates.’

Michael Cautiously Welcomes Night Flight Proposals

Sir Michael Fallon MP has cautiously welcomed Government proposals on night flight restrictions for Gatwick airport.

His comments anticipate the release of the Department of Transport’s Airspace Modernisation consultation document later this month.

The proposals on the Government’s role in setting noise controls at Gatwick airport from October 2017 to 2022 have been outlined in a consultation document called Night Flight Restrictions at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted, published earlier this year.

Michael said: ‘This report contains several proposals that I hope will be introduced as soon as possible. Measures such as noise quotas could lead to improvement for everyone. But I remain concerned about any changes that would lead to more of my constituents being affected by noise. I will continue to make representations in any future consultation.’

Michael Helps to Open Trinity’s New Building

Opening Ceremony (89) - editMichael joined school governors, local supporters and representatives from churches across Sevenoaks as he helped to open Trinity School’s new building last Friday.

After giving a reading in a service led by the Bishop of Rochester, he participated in a balloon release and helped to plant an olive tree in the school’s grounds.

Michael said: “I was very pleased to help to open Trinity School’s new building.  This event was the culmination of many years of effort from local parents and volunteers and this excellent new building is the result of their work.  School choice is expanding in Sevenoaks and I look forward to seeing Trinity going from strength to strength in the years to come.”