Tory MPs call for Dominic Raab to resign as top civil servant gives evidence

Deputy PM Dominic Raab should resign from cabinet to avoid the investigation into bullying allegations against becoming a major “distraction” for the government, Tory MPs have said.

Former cabinet ministers have spoken out as it also emerged that a top civil servant who ran a government department while Mr Raab was minister has given evidence to the bullying probe.

A total of formal eight bullying complaints – denied by Mr Raab – have been made against him, but at least 24 civil servants are thought to be involved in these claims.

The Foreign Office’s former permanent secretary Simon McDonald has given evidence formally criticising Dominic Raab to the inquiry ordered by Rishi Sunak, according to The Times.

Condemning his behaviour last year, Lord McDonald said Mr Raab was “as abrasive and controlling with junior ministers and senior officials as he was with his private secretaries.”

Tory MPs said it looked doubtful whether Mr Raab could survive the investigation, and suggested he should step down to ease pressure on the government – accused of “downing in sleaze” by Labour.

“It just seems to me to be a repeat of the Nadhim Zahawi situation, where it is inevitable that he will be asked to leave the government,” one ex-cabinet minister told The Telegraph. “So why prolong the pain? I think it would be right for Dominic to stand down.”

A second former cabinet minister added: “His position is becoming more and more difficult. If the prime minister is to show his commitment to integrity, Dominic Raab should go while the case is being investigated. He is another distraction.”

Mr Sunak asked Adam Tolley KC in November to lead an independent is investigation into complaints about behaviour, the justice secretary, across three ministerial roles.

Mr Raab told the Commons last year that he would “refute” the allegations – including claims he left civil servants too scared to enter his office.

While two dozen civil servants are thought to be involved in the probe, many as witnesses, some who planned to file complaints reportedly did not do so after being told they would be identified to Mr Raab.

A civil servant who worked with Mr Raab told The Times that he was “very rude and abrasive, sometimes totally randomly”.

Tory MP for Amber Valley Nigel Mills said: “If this is kind of unintentional and he’s in a high pressure job and he lost his temper once or twice, that probably wouldn’t be bullying.

“I think it’s so hard to know until you know exactly what he’s accused of. If he is a repeated serious bully, I’m not sure that is something you could survive, and I’m not sure it’s something you should survive in a senior role either.”

Liberal Democrats’ chief whip Wendy Chamberlain has written to Mr Sunak to urge him to suspend Mr Raab until the probe is over. “The reported scale of the allegations against Dominic Raab raises real questions for Rishi Sunak. Why hasn’t the PM suspended Raab yet, for the duration of this inquiry?”

It comes as Mr Sunak tries to draw a line over the Nadhim Zahawi tax scandal. amid accusations from Labour that he has been propping up a “rogue’s gallery” in cabinet.

The PM insisted on Monday that he had acted “pretty decisively” by sacking the Tory chairman for breaching the ministerial code over his tax affairs, as he vowed to restore “integrity in politics”.