We Need Strong Defence

This election is the most important election in my lifetime. As the United Kingdom negotiates its exit from the European Union, our country needs stable leadership to see us through.

But this election is about more than Brexit. In an uncertain world, it is about maintaining our strong defence. It is about the future security of our country and the safety of our people. It is about ensuring we continue to work closely with our partners in Europe on security. And it is about standing up and protecting freedoms that are threatened around the world by conflict and terrorism.

Strong defence requires an increasing defence budget. Britain’s budget is £36 billion this year, rising to almost £40 billion by 2020/21. We will continue to meet the NATO 2 per cent commitment, and go further by increasing our defence budget by at least 0.5 per cent ahead of inflation in every year of the new parliament. No other party is making such a strong ongoing financial investment in our armed forces.

We will continue to act in the national interest by leading in NATO and deploying troops, ships and planes to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with our allies and counter Russian aggression. We will continue to play a leading role in the campaign against Daesh, helping to drive terrorists out of Iraq and Syria, and keeping our streets here at home safe. We will also step up around the world to protect British interests, support fragile democracies, and contribute to UN peacekeeping in vulnerable countries like South Sudan and Somalia.

We will maintain the overall size of the armed forces, including an army that is capable of fielding a warfighting division. We will provide our armed forces with the new frigates, submarines, fighter jets, maritime patrol aircraft and armoured vehicles that they need – the biggest investment programme for generations. That programme totals £178 billion over the next decade, creating high-skilled jobs across the whole country, including £31 billion on a new fleet of four Dreadnought ballistic missile boats, £15.4 billion on land equipment and £11.1 billion on new helicopters.

We will support our veterans as they move into civilian life. We will help them to start new careers by ensuring that the skills and qualifications they gained in service are better recognised by civilian employers. We will introduce a twelve-month National Insurance holiday for employers taking on veterans. We will strengthen the Armed Forces Covenant and improve the coordination of government services to veterans, including housing, employment and mental health services, by establishing a Veterans Board in the Cabinet Office.

We will protect our brave servicemen and women from unjustified legal harassment. We are already bringing to an end the investigations in Iraq and Afghanistan. We will ensure that further investigations in Northern Ireland do not reopen previously examined cases without new evidence. We will not allow our hands to be bound by the European Convention on Human Rights when protecting our troops’ ability to operate in future conflicts.

In the face of growing challenges abroad, it is more important than ever that we maintain and renew our nuclear deterrent. I was proud to have cut steel last October on HMS Dreadnought, the first of our new nuclear ballistic submarines which will provide the ultimate guarantee of our safety right through to the early 2060s.

All of this is at risk from Jeremy Corbyn propped up by a coalition of chaos. A Corbyn-led government would abolish our nuclear deterrent, review our NATO deployments and undermine our contribution to the counter-Daesh campaign in Iraq and Syria.

So the choice on 8 June is clear. It is a choice between Theresa May providing strong and stable leadership for the United Kingdom, or a coalition of chaos led by a weak Jeremy Corbyn. Only Theresa May and the Conservatives can give this country the strong defence that we need to continue to stand tall in the world.

Michael Officially Opens The New Beacon Centre

Michael officially opened a new multi-purpose educational centre at The New Beacon preparatory school for boys on 26th May 2017.

He was invited to speak at the event by Headmaster Mike Piercy and was greeted by all the schoolboys and their parents outside the new Centre. Michael asked one of the boys from Reception to join him in cutting the ribbon and officially opening the new building.

Michael was then given a tour of the Centre, where the Headmaster revealed the results of an election poll he had taken with the schoolboys that put Michael and the Conservatives in the lead. This was followed by an hour-long Q&A session with the senior boys inside. Among many questions, the boys asked about Michael’s motivations to become an MP and his views on defence.

Michael said: ‘This is about you, the schoolboys, and the future generations. I’ve always supported this high-achieving prep-school and believe this new Centre will itself become a new beacon for other schools in our area to use.’

New Sevenoaks Primary ‘Perfect Example’ of Community Spirit

Conservative candidate Sir Michael Fallon recently visited the new Sevenoaks Primary School construction site.  He was given a tour of the new building by the school’s headmaster, Alan Duffy.

IMG_6307
Michael with Alan and the developers inside the new building.

The school needs to raise £500,000 to complete the development; £450,000 has been raised so far.  The Hands Trust, run by Guy and Julia Hands, has been match funding every pound raised.  Local businesses have also been very supportive. The new building is due to be completed by the end of the year.

IMG_6315
Michael with Alan outside the new building.

Alan Duffy has raised around £45,000 from his famous walks.  Michael congratulated Alan on his efforts and on the progress that has been made on the new build.

Michael said: ‘This is a perfect example of the parents and the local community coming together. Local businesses have backed this new building, as have I. Future students will benefit from these renewed facilities for many years to come.’

Michael Officially Opens Andrews Court

Michael recently officially opened Andrews Court, a new development of affordable rented apartments for the over 55s in Swanley.  New residents joined Moat representatives, local councillors and officers from Sevenoaks District Council for the celebrations.
IMG_6280
Michael addresses the staff and residents.
Delivered by Moat in partnership with Sevenoaks District Council, the Homes and Communities Agency and developer Jenner, Andrews Court is a redevelopment of the old St Andrews Court. The scheme includes larger dwellings, which allow easier access for people who may have wheelchairs or walking frames,  incorporating aspects of Dementia-friendly design – such as different coloured doors and carpets on each floor.
Michael said: ‘What’s important here is partnership; with Sevenoaks District Council and the Government.  These things don’t just happen.  They happen when there is genuine partnership involved.  This redevelopment is vital for the community because it is affordable and designed to ensure residents have the dignity of independence.
The residents here want to be looked after later in life, but they also want to be able to look after themselves.  For all these reasons, I’m delighted to be here to open Andrews Court.  I look forward to more of these developments coming forward here in Sevenoaks.’

Michael becomes official Conservative candidate for Sevenoaks

Michael has handed in his nomination form to become the official prospective parliamentary Conservative candidate for Sevenoaks.

At the event, Michael said: ‘This is the most important election for years. Over the next four weeks, I will be campaigning for live casinos Canada every vote in Sevenoaks, Swanley, Westerham and every village.’

The forms were handed to the Returning Officer, Dr Pav Ramewal, as soon as the nomination form collections opened.

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.

DSC_0019

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.

IMG_7489

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.’