Dominic Raab: Meet Theresa May's new Brexit Secretary

Jack Taylor/GettyBrexit Secretary Dominic Raab
  • Dominic Raab is newly appointed Brexit Secretary.
  • The highly-rated MP belongs to the Eurosceptic wing of the Conservative party, and is an “active supporter” of the pro-Brexit European Research Group.
  • Raab clashed with May in 2011 over the Equality Act, describing feminists as “obnoxious bigots.”
  • Former colleagues consider Raab a “forensic” minister.
  • Raab used to be Chief of Staff to David Davis, who he replaces at DExEU.

LONDON – Dominic Raab was on Monday appointed Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, taking over from David Davis, who resigned on Sunday evening.

The appointment is a striking one because Raab, the MP for Esher and Walton, belongs firmly to the Eurosceptic wing of the Conservative Party. Described as an “active supporter” of the European Research Group – comprised of hardline Conservative Brexiteers including Jacob Rees-Mogg – he has often rallied against European institutions such as the European Court of Justice and the European Convention on Human Rights.

The ERG is likely to welcome Raab’s appointment to DExEU, as he has developed a reputation for being tough with civil servants.

But it means further clashes with Theresa May’s Europe adviser and Olly Robbins, the architect of her Brexit deal, are inevitable. Most of the ERG were incensed when May’s meeting with her Cabinet at Chequers on Friday produced a manifesto for a much softer Brexit than she had previously proposed, and that deal is one that Raab will now be forced to try and sell to the country.

David DavisJack Taylor/Getty ImagesEx-Brexit Secretary David Davis

A “forensic” minister

Before he became an MP, Raab served as Chief of Staff to his predecessor Davis, and then served as a loyal junior minister to Michael Gove in his time at the Justice Department. He also worked for Dominic Grieve after his stint with Davis.

He was previously Minister of State for Housing and Planning, and before that a junior minister in the Ministry of Justice. He is considered a shrewd negotiator and was described as a “focused, forensic minister” by a former colleague.

Raab is also an experienced solicitor and negotiator, having worked for a Palestinian negotiator at the Oslo Peace Accords, and protecting Tony Blair from being subpoenaed by Slobodan Milosevic at his trial at the Hague.

Jacob Rees-MoggBen Pruchnie / GettyJacob Rees-Mogg, Chairman of the European Research Group

Raab: Feminists are “obnoxious bigots”

Raab himself has clashed with May on multiple occasions. In 2011, May blocked a move championed by Raab to replace the Human Rights Act with a British Bill of Rights. He also clashed with May over feminism in 2011, after he labelled feminists as “obnoxious bigots”.

Raab went on to support Boris Johnson and then now Environment Secretary Gove in the Conservative leadership race to replace David Cameron in 2016, and wanted to serve under May as a Minister of State or above, but according to his blog “it was not to be.”

Since then, Raab worked has hard to get back into a ministerial role, writing positive newspaper articles and making supportive television appearances loyal to the prime minister. On Sunday he made a television appearance on Sky to support declare that more Cabinet Ministers needed to get behind her ahead of her Chequers Brexit summit, the event which prompted David Davis to resign.

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