Race for Number 10: Can lawyer and black belt Dominic Raab lead the Tory party?

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Race for Number 10: Dominic Raab
Race for Number 10: Dominic Raab

In a series of in-depth profiles, we take a look at the candidates to replace Theresa May and become Britain’s new Prime Minister.

Former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab is up there with some of the more likely candidates for the role.

In one sentence:

An ambitious karate black belt lawyer who finally found himself at the heart of Brexit despite previous Cabinet disappointments.

Betting odds:

50/1 (Oddschecker)

How did he vote on Brexit, and what does he think now?

Raab has long been a staunch Brexiteer but found himself at the heart of Britain’s exit from the EU when Theresa May appointed him Brexit Secretary in July 2018 following the resignation of David Davis.

He resigned from the post himself in November of the same year, blaming his decision on “two major and fatal flaws” in Mrs May’s draft Brexit withdrawal agreement.

He said the proposed deal would "threaten the integrity of the United Kingdom" and would “lead to an indefinite if not permanent situation where [the UK is] locked into a regime with no say over the rules being applied, with no exit mechanism", flaws which would prove "damaging for the economy [and] devastating for public trust in our democracy".

However, despite describing Mrs May’s deal as worse than remaining in the EU, he voted for it in the third vote on March 29, 2019.

Britain's Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union Dominic Raab leaves Downing Street to attend Prime Minister's questions in London, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018. British Prime Minister Theresa May will try to persuade her divided Cabinet on Wednesday that they have a choice between backing a draft Brexit deal with the European Union or plunging the U.K. into political and economic uncertainty. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Raab resigned over 'fatal flaws' in Mrs May's withdrawal agreement (Picture: AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

Any controversy?

Like his fellow candidates, 45-year-old Raab has not escaped controversy.

In 2011, he was accused by Theresa May of fuelling “gender warfare” by describing some feminists as "obnoxious bigots" in an online article, saying men were getting “a raw deal” at the hands of the "equality bandwagon".

In May 2018, Raab’s diary secretary was caught up in a Daily Mirror sting that alleged that she had met men through a "sugar daddy" website.

In the article, the secretary was quoted as saying he ordered the same meal every day from Pret A Manger: "He has the chicken Caesar and bacon baguette, SuperFruit pot and the Vitamin Volcano smoothie, every day. He is so weird. It's the Dom Raab Special."



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In January 2011, The Mail on Sunday published an article alleging that Raab had paid a female employee £20,000 in an out-of-court settlement as part of a confidentiality agreement to drop a claim of workplace bullying when he was Chief of Staff to David Davis in 2007.

Raab sued the newspaper for libel and during high court proceedings, it was revealed that the employee’s claim was settled an at employment tribunal which involved monetary compensation and a confidentiality clause for both parties.

The newspaper issued an apology to Raab on March 2012.

Britain's Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union Dominic Raab, left, and EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier shake hands during a press conference at EU headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018. (AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)
Raab found himself at the heart of Brexit after previous Cabinet disappointments (Picture: AP Photo/Olivier Matthys)

Biggest policy promises?

Raab wants to cut the basic rate of income tax by 1p every year for five years and raise the National Insurance threshold to £12,500 to match income tax.

He says he can help negotiate a better Brexit deal for the country and is willing to prorogue Parliament to secure a no-deal exit by October 31.

Raab has pledged to protect the consumer from big businesses that ‘rip them off’.

He has also suggested he could save money by merging and closing Whitehall departments and would make the Tory party greener.

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Voting history:

According to parliamentary monitoring website They Work for You, Raab voted in favour of military action against ISIS.

He also voted for an increase in taxes on plane tickets, alcohol and cars and to end financial support for late teenagers in training and further education.

The MP for Esher and Walton also voted in favour of a stricter asylum system and for stronger enforcement of immigration rules.

He voted against a reduction in spending on welfare benefits and against a banker’s bonus tax, as well as opposing climate change mitigation measures.

Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab during his speech in central London, on preparations for a no deal Brexit which coincides with the publication of the first of the Government's technical notes on the no deal preparations.
Raab is described by many as ambitious (Picture: PA)

Career to date:

Raab is the son of a Czech-born Jewish refugee who fled the Nazis in 1938.

Brought up in Buckinghamshire, he studied law at Oxford University before switching to Cambridge for his Master's.

He worked as a lawyer at the Foreign Office then entered politics in 2006 as an aide to David Davis then Dominic Grieve, the Remain-backing Tory MP.

Raab was elected as MP of Esher and Walton in 2010, gaining a total of 58.9% of the vote in the Tory safe seat - a majority of 18,593 over his nearest rival.

He was appointed civil liberties minister in the Ministry of Justice following David Cameron's general election victory in 2015.

Raab played a prominent role in the Leave campaign in the 2016 EU referendum, but was sacked from his junior ministerial role by Theresa May when she took over as prime minister following Mr Cameron's resignation.

He regained a position after the 2017 election, taking on a role in the Ministry of Justice before becoming housing minister in January 2018.

He returned to the spotlight when Mrs May appointed him Brexit Secretary following David Davis’ resignation, later resigning himself from the post over her Draft Withdrawal Agreement.

What his colleagues say:

“Dominic is his own biggest fan,” one MP reportedly told The Telegraph. “He’s just a bit too clever. He comes across as rather arrogant sometimes. He would do well to tone it down.”

“I’m not his biggest fan,” Raab’s diary secretary told an undercover reporter from the Daily Mirror. “You have to be very straight with him. He finds it difficult dealing with women. He’s very dismissive.”

Public awareness?

Raab has been working hard on his campaign, reportedly spending more than any other candidate on Facebook ads.

According to the BBC, Mr Raab's official campaign page has spent more than £56,000 on Facebook adverts since it was created late in May.

And it seems the campaign is specifically targeting certain age groups, with an analysis of Facebook data reportedly showing that most of Raab’s ads have been seen by people over the age of 55.

In his own words:

  • "The bridge to Brexit might be rocky and take more time than expected."

  • “The typical user of a foodbank is not someone that’s languishing in poverty, it’s someone who has a cash flow problem episodically.”

  • “We’re up against it and we won’t deliver Brexit with bluff and bluster.”

  • “I’m probably not a feminist.”

  • “I resigned because I wasn’t in good conscience willing to walk a bad deal over the line.”

  • “If I’m the next Prime Minister the consumer will be king.”

Did you know?

Raab has a black belt in karate.

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