Election 2017: Michael Fallon says ‘work with Muslim leaders’ will help tackle extremists on campaign visit to Gants Hill

Michael Fallon campaigning with Lee Scott in Ilford North. Picture: Ilford North Conservatives

Michael Fallon campaigning with Lee Scott in Ilford North. Picture: Ilford North Conservatives - Credit: Ilford North Conservatives

Speaking before the Manchester attack, on a campaign visit to Ilford North, Michael Fallon said to tackle extremists we must “work with Muslim leaders in colleges, mosques and at home”.

The defence secretary was visiting Gants Hill with Conservative candidate Lee Scott on Monday, and went out door knocking in the constituency.

The Recorder decided not to publish this article immediately in the wake of the Manchester attack, as campaigning was suspended.

Speaking about recent arrests in east London by police on terror charges Mr Fallon said: “We need to deradicalise extremists and work with Muslim leaders in colleges, mosques and at home.

“We need to use the RAF to strike terrorists in Syria and Jeremy Corbyn is unfit to do that.”

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Mr Fallon urged voters to back Mr Scott on June 8.

“He works his socks off,” he said.

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“We need him in the government, he knows how to get things done.”

The trip to the borough caused a lot of criticism on Twitter after users claimed that Mr Fallon prioritised the visit over attending a defence and security conference.

The Times’ defence editor described this as “poor”.

Mr Scott’s campaign manager, and Redbridge Tory group leader, Councillor Paul Canal, said the criticism was not warranted.

“It’s petty bickering of the uninformed,” he said.

“We are in the most important general election since 1979 and we need to make sure Theresa May is in government to protect our best interests when we leave the EU.

“Michael was putting his county first by supporting Lee.”

Ilford North’s Labour candidate Wes Streeting took a different view to the visit and said the Conservatives should say sorry.

He said in a statement: “Michael Fallon has serious questions to answer about the impact of government cuts on the capacity of our armed forces, which is probably why he ducked an important debate in favour of a photo op with Conservative activists.”

“I would never pull the defence secretary away from talking to personnel about the pressures on our over-stretched military.

“Michael Fallon and the Ilford North Tories should apologise.”

In the 2015 election only 589 votes split Mr Streeting, who took the seat, and Mr Scott, who represented the constituency from 2005 to 2015.

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