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Kent reacts to Sevenoaks MP Michael Fallon's resignation as defence secretary

By Paul Francis

The Prime Minister has appointed a new defence secretary following Sir Michael Fallon's shock resignation last night.

The Sevenoaks MP quit following allegations about his previous conduct, saying his behaviour had "fallen short of the high standards required" to represent the Armed Forces.

He had earlier admitted touching a journalist’s knee.

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Sevenoaks MP Michael Fallon
Sevenoaks MP Michael Fallon

Now, Chief Whip and South Staffordshire MP Gavin Williamson has been announced as Sir Michael's replacement on the Cabinet.

His fellow Conservative MPs in Kent have remained tight-lipped on the news, but Labour's Rosie Duffield said she was "shocked" by some of the allegations swirling around Westminster.

The MP for Canterbury and Whitstable said: "Some of the things that have been reported in recent days show that many MPs have clearly abused their position of trust.

"I have been shocked by some of the rumours and stories that have been emerging."

Gavin Williamson MP has been appointed defence secretary
Gavin Williamson MP has been appointed defence secretary

Referring to claims Ashford MP Damian Green acted inappropriately, Ms Duffield added: "With regards to Mr Green, I hope that despite his position, the Prime Minister will observe due process and ensure that any allegations against him are fully investigated."

Speaking generally about the issue of sexual harassment in Parliament, Maidstone MP Helen Grant said: "I am frankly shocked at the very serious allegations of sexual harassment and abuse that have been disclosed in recent days.

"Some of the victims will now find justice but I am deeply saddened that many felt they had no-one to turn to, for so long, and that must change forthwith."

Maidstone and The Weald MP Helen Grant
Maidstone and The Weald MP Helen Grant

Sevenoaks Conservative county councillor Peter Lake said he was horrified at news Sir Michael had stepped down.

He said: “I am very sad about his resignation, he is a great guy and he has always been a very conscientious local MP. It is not going to help Theresa May at all.”

But he feared there were likely to be more revelations, adding: "I think there is probably going to be but we will have to wait and see."

In his resignation statement, Sir Michael said: "A number of allegations have surfaced about MPs in recent days, including some about my previous conduct.

Canterbury and Whitstable MP Rosie Duffield
Canterbury and Whitstable MP Rosie Duffield

“Many of these have been false but I accept that in the past I have fallen below the high standards that we require of the Armed Forces that I have the honour to respresent.

“I have reflected on my position and I am therefore resigning as Defence Secretary.

“It has been a privilege to have led Defence over the past three and a half years."

He added: “I shall continue to support the government and work hard for my Sevenoaks constituents.”

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