Words: Delmar Terblanche
Subbing: Jenny JinJoo Lee
Dominic Raab has been appointed the new Brexit secretary following the resignation of David Davis late last night. Mr Raab was a prodigy of Mr Davis, who appointed him as his chief of staff while shadow home secretary.
Mr Raab has worked in politics since 2000, when he applied to join the Foreign Office. After working numerous details, including leading a team at the British Embassy in the Hague and advising on the Arab Israeli conflict, the European Union, and Gibraltar, Mr Raab was elected to a safe Conservative seat representing Esher and Walton in 2010.
In parliament, Mr Raab developed a reputation as a clever troublemaker, who made no secret of or apology for occasionally holding controversial views. In 2011 he authored an opinion piece which called for an end to “soft feminist bigotry” and remarked that “maybe it’s time men started burning their briefs”. Theresa May, then home secretary, delivered a sharp upbraiding, urging Mr Raab that “labelling feminists obnoxious bigots is not the way forward”.
Mrs May would go on to fire Mr Raab from the Justice Department during her first cabinet reshuffle in 2016, but later reappointed him, and then moved him to the key portfolio of housing.
Mr Raab’s appointment appears, at least for the moment, to be a popular one. His legacy as a devoted Brexiteer may go some way to quelling fears among that sect of the Conservative party, while his openness to differing views has the potential to endear him to remainers. He is, after all, close friends with lead Tory rebel Dominic Grieve, and has declared “Whatever people’s views, if they’re honestly held, I’ve got time for them.”
Penny Mordaunt, the international development secretary, described Mr Raab as “Highly capable, across the issues… and a pragmatist.”
A useful skill set, as with just eight months left to settle the terms of Brexit, pragmatism matters now more than ever.