Who is Dominic Raab? – the man now deputising as UK prime minister where necessary

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Who is Dominic Raab? – the man now deputising as UK prime minister where necessary

Monday, April 06, 2020

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OBSERVER ONLINE – shares with readers a profile of Dominic Raab

Less than three years ago, Dominic Raab wasn't even in the government.

But now, as foreign secretary and first secretary of state, he is the de-facto second-in-command to Johnson.

That means he could take over running the government for a while if the prime minister sees his health worsen.

It's an opportunity Raab, a 46-year-old former lawyer, would relish, under normal circumstances.

The staunch Brexiteer ran for the Conservative Party leadership last year but he was knocked out in the second round of voting by MPs.

Prior to that he had run-ins with Mr Johnson's predecessor, Theresa May, quitting her cabinet after just over four months as Brexit secretary.

The sometimes outspoken Raab has had a volatile time - going in and out of favour - since becoming Conservative MP for Esher and Walton, Surrey, in 2010.

In 2017, Mr Raab was branded "offensive" by then Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron after saying "the typical user of a food bank is not someone that's languishing in poverty; it's someone who has a cash flow problem".

But in June that year he returned to government, as a justice minister, this time middle-ranking rather than junior.

In May's January 2018 reshuffle he became housing minister - one of the highest-profile non-cabinet roles in government.

And in July that year, when Davis quit, the prime minister promoted Mr Raab to Brexit secretary, a cabinet post.

Yet his improved relationship with May did not last long. In November 2018, he quit, criticising her position on Brexit.

He argued that he could not "in good conscience" support the "backstop" arrangement designed to avoid a hard border between the Irish Republic and Northern Ireland.

As an influential Brexiteer, his comments were seen as significant in increasing opposition to May's withdrawal agreement with the EU, which MPs repeatedly rejected.

After May announced she was standing down last year, Raab entered the contest to become Conservative leader, and prime minister.

In a crowded field, he failed to get the 33 MPs' votes he needed to progress to the third round. Fellow Brexiteers Boris Johnson and Michael Gove outlasted him.

Mark Francois, one of the most strongly pro-Brexit of Tory MPs, said: "Whoever wins, and I hope it's Boris, I hope they find a good place for Dom in their cabinet, because I think he deserves it."

Johnson, to whom Raab gave his support after his elimination from the the race, did just that. On 24 July last year he became foreign secretary and first secretary of state - effectively deputy prime minister.

The new job gave him an international profile surpassed only by Mr Johnson's, in terms of the UK government.

But he only narrowly managed to hold on to Esher and Walton at last December's general election, seeing off a strong Liberal Democrat challenged by 2,743 votes.

The overall Conservative landslide, however, on a promise to "get Brexit done", meant he saw his dream of leaving the EU come true on 31 January this year.

Since then coronavirus has taken over from Brexit as the UK government's number one priority, although tough negotiations on a trade deal with Brussels are continuing, via video link.

It was reported recently that Raab, as well as being first secretary of state, had been chosen as "designated survivor" - the person who takes over the running of the country if Johnson is struck down, reaffirming his status.


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