I congratulate Rishi Sunak on his election as leader of the Conservative Party. It is important that as our Prime Minister he receives the united support of Conservatives in parliament, as we work together to restore stability to the economy and continue delivering the manifesto on which we were elected in 2019. I had supported my friend Penny Mordaunt in her bid to be our next leader, but despite her many fine qualities she was unable to secure the number of nominations required to challenge Rishi Sunak in a ballot of the members of the Conservative Party across the country. I hope that she will continue to play a prominent role in government, supporting our new Prime Minister. We should also thank Liz Truss for her service to the country as a continuously serving government minister over the past ten years. Politics can be a tough business, but she has always been someone who has worked hard and acted with best intentions.
The global forces of war, recovery from the COVID pandemic and the rising economic pressures being experienced right around the world, will challenge our new Prime Minister. We see evidence of these issues locally as well. I recently visited the army ranges at Lydd to see Ukrainian soldiers taking part in an infantry training course being run by the Scots Guards. It was humbling to meet these men, aged from late teens to early fifties, who will soon be back on the front line fighting to liberate their homeland from the illegal aggression of Vladmir Putin’s unnecessary war.
I have also met with a range of local businesses to discuss the impact of rising energy prices. One factory owner on Romney Marsh told me that they had planned to close their operations at the end of September but have only been able to continue because of the government’s energy price cap.
Last week, along with other Kent MPs, I met with the then Home Secretary Suella Braverman, to discuss the continuing problem of migrant boat crossings in the English Channel. We need to fix this problem fast, to stop these dangerous illegal crossings and save lives. Whilst there has been a substantial increase in investment in detection equipment some are still getting through to land on the beaches. If we were able to police the crossings in French waters and on their coast we would be able to do more to prevent them. The government remains committed to do whatever is within its power to prevent these crossings, and to ensure that people who arrive in the UK in this way, with no valid claim to asylum, are not allowed to stay. This includes the option as well of processing some claimants offshore in Rwanda. This strategy is used by other countries, including in Europe, and we could do the same.