Last week I delivered my maiden speech to the House of Commons. The first time a Member of Parliament rises to speak in the Chamber is a big moment – a chance to tell the House about their constituency, their predecessor and their priorities.
I spoke of the history of our area as the frontline – as the guardian, gateway and custodian of our nation. And the crucial part that Dover & Deal has to play as we leave the European Union and reclaim our independent place in the world.
Our community is not simply home to the greatest people. It is home to the White Cliffs too – and their timeless values of liberty, freedom, justice, faith and friendship, community and caring for others.
For us, it is not just about what we can do. It is about who we are.
As is traditional for a Maiden Speech, I spoke of my predecessor’s service and record of delivery. Charlie Elphicke’s election success in 2010 was one of the stand-out results of that election. His trademark in politics was time and again winning against the odds and delivering for our area. Early on, he fought to see off the planned sale of the Port of Dover to the French or whoever. With the support of Dame Vera Lynn, the sell-off was ditched and a ground-breaking People’s Port delivered at the docks.
Since 2010, more than £500 million of investment has swept into Dover and Deal, including a brand new hospital in Dover and the fast train to Deal. He also took up more than 23,000 cases for local residents.
Building on this record is a high hurdle for any new MP. Yet build on it I will to deliver on our community’s priorities – stronger borders, free-flowing trade, more investment in roads and rail, better healthcare, more jobs and money.
I also care deeply about improving opportunity, prosperity and life chances. I am proud to have started life in the safety and security afforded by a council house. My education at a Catholic faith primary and a grammar school transformed my life chances – and indeed my life.
Growing up in the 1980s, I was one of a generation who benefited from a time of national ambition, shared prosperity and opportunity for all, where hard work could bring rewards. I am committed to providing for others the tools for social mobility and opportunity that were given to me: good-quality and affordable housing, help for those in need, faith, grammar schools, economic growth and shared prosperity.
This is an historic time for our nation. As your representative, I am looking forward to the independent, successful, prosperous and strong country that we can build together in the decades to come.