Defend Yourself Online

Michael has warned consumers to defend themselves online at an information session on safe and secure banking in Swanley on Saturday.

The session was hosted by Barclays and was organised by Michael following the announced closure of the Farningham branch.  Designed to help customers to explore the alternatives to branch banking, experts were on-hand at the event to explain what services are available through the Post office and through online, mobile and telephone banking.

It was a good opportunity for the local MP to discuss the work that Barclays has done to support Farningham customers with Will Dixon, the Community Banking Director for Barclays in Kent, and Judith Gafatchi, the Swanley branch manager.

Crucially, the event also covered digital safety where local residents learned to protect themselves from financial fraud and scams.

Michael said: ‘Banks have a duty to ensure all residents affected by sudden branch closures are still able to access banking simply, safely and securely.  Learning to defend yourself online is vital in this digital age.  I will continue to work with banks to ensure everyone can access the services they need.’

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.’

Michael Visits the Falkland Islands

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Michael speaking to military personnel on the Falklands. Crown Copyright.

Michael has visited the Falkland Islands this week in the first visit by a UK Defence Secretary in more than a decade.

He spent time with islanders and MOD personnel in the capital Stanley and other sites, witnessing some of the construction work which is taking place as part of a £180m, 10-year commitment to modernise the defensive infrastructure of the islands.  The £180m upgrade package includes £60m to improve the power station at Mount Pleasant Camp, £22m to improve facilities at the berths in Mare Harbour, and £20m of work on accommodation at Radar Heads.

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Michael paying his respects to those who fell in the 1982 conflict. Crown Copyright.

As well as meeting current military personnel he also visited key locations from the 1982 conflict, including at Goose Green and San Carlos, and paid his respects to those who died on both the British and Argentinian sides.

Michael said: “This was an important opportunity to hear about life on the islands and the potential for economic development that will bring more jobs and prosperity.  The right of the islanders to determine their own future was settled over 30 years ago and confirmed by the recent referendum.

Now we want to build a better relationship with the new Argentinian government, as neighbours in the South Atlantic and fellow G20 members.”

Rotary Club of Darent Valley

rotary clubMichael met Rotarians and their guests at their new regular lunch venue held at White Oak Indoor Bowls Club, Swanley on 3rd October.  Members had requested a talk based around Michael’s new role as Defence Secretary.

As all knew, it had been an extremely busy summer, with Syria, Iraq, Ukraine and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa dominating the agenda, as well at the NATO summit and the draw down of troops and equipment from Afghanistan.  We now face a direct threat from Islamic extremism.  The government is working closely with our allies to drive back, dismantle and ultimately destroy ISIL and what it stands for.

Michael has already had two trips to visit servicemen and women in Afghanistan; met the RAF crews in Cyprus – whose tireless efforts saved lives by delivering aid in Iraq and visited several defence allies in the middle-east and Europe.  Last month he hosted the defence delegations from 28 NATO countries and their partners at the NATO summit in Newport, Wales; arguably the most significant summit since the end of Cold War.

He wanted to reassure everyone that his current role does not affect his constituency work, which he very much values.  In addition to his regular advice surgeries he had also had meetings with Swanley Town Council, Healthwatch Kent, and Lloyds Bank Sevenoaks in the last few weeks.  He recently opened the new branch of Handelsbanken in Sevenoaks, launched a new current account at Sevenoaks Crown Post Office, and presented Swanley Station staff with a Secure Station Award.

Earlier that day he had spoken at the West Kent Partnership Business Engagement Event in Brands Hatch,  Plans for the following week would include a visit to West Kingsdown Primary School, attending the British Tour Car Championship Final Roadshow event at Brands Hatch and a parish meeting at Badgers Mount.  A business advice surgery will be held shortly and Swanley Jobs Fair is being organised for mid-October.

Defence Secretary

modThe Prime Minister, Rt Hon David Cameron MP, appointed Michael as Secretary of State for Defence in his latest cabinet reshuffle.  Michael now has overall responsibility for the business of the Ministry of Defence, providing strategic direction on policy, operations, acquisition and personnel matters.

Regarding his appointment Mr Fallon said:

“To serve as Defence Secretary is an incredible responsibility and a great privilege. My job is to make sure our magnificent Armed Forces have the equipment and support they need to keep Britain safe.

I would like to reassure all my constituents that my role will have no effect on my constituency work, which I very much value.  I’ll still be holding my advice surgeries in Sevenoaks and Swanley as normal, will still be carrying out the same number of engagements and will still, very much, have time for the all those who live in the Sevenoaks constituency.

Constituency work is a vital part of any minister’s job and it will indeed remain a key part of mine – absolutely.”