I am proud to represent the South East of England. Having lived in the region for almost twenty years, I know what a fantastic part of our country it is.
The South East is an area of incredible diversity, ranging from historic cities such as Winchester and Canterbury to centres of modern technological enterprise like Reading, where Microsoft's UK headquarters are based. It is this diversity which makes the South East such an attractive region, both to people and businesses. The South East has the largest population of any region in the UK, and an exceptionally strong regional economy. There are 18 universities in the South East, including the University of Oxford - the oldest in the English speaking world. This means the South East has a strong and well-deserved reputation for educational excellence.
The South East has many regions of exceptional natural beauty, and is home to England's newest National Park - the South Downs -- as well as many other recognised Areas of Outstanding National Beauty. Many of these areas are not just attractive but also environmentally important, such as Chichester's natural Harbour, which boasts both some of the UK's most stunning beaches as well as ecologically rich tidal flats. There are over 700 Sites of Special Scientific Interest in the South East, recognised for their importance either for their geology or their wildlife.
The South East is made up of nine counties: Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, East Sussex, Hampshire, the Isle of Wight, Kent, Oxfordshire, Surrey and West Sussex. Each of these areas has its own distinct features and qualities, and I look forward to meeting many of you when I’m visiting the different parts of the South East to find out both why you love your area, and also what I can do to help improve it.