Who is Dominic Raab? – BBC News


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Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab is coming under fire for comments about “taking the knee”. So who is Mr Raab?

The Conservative MP was a leading member of the campaign to get Britain out of the EU – and has hit the headlines in the past for unguarded, or controversial, statements.

In November 2018, when he was Brexit secretary, he faced criticism for saying he “hadn’t quite understood” how reliant UK trade in goods is on the Dover-Calais crossing.

Going further back, he clashed with then-Home Secretary Theresa May over women’s rights and was criticised for comments about food bank users.

He also quit Mrs May’s cabinet over his views on Brexit.

Now Mr Raab has angered supporters of the Black Lives Matter campaign by telling talkRadio’s Julia Hartley-Brewer he would only “take the knee” – go down on bended knee – for “the Queen and the Mrs when I asked her to marry me”.

The gesture, used to protest against racial inequality, “seems to be taken” from the TV drama Game of Thrones, he added, and “feels to me like a symbol of subjugation, subordination, rather than one of liberation”.

He later qualified his remarks – following opposition criticism of his “insulting” and “flippant” tone – saying he “fully” supports Black Lives Matter campaign.


Who is Dominic Raab?

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Date of birth: 25 February 1974 (age 46)

Job: Foreign secretary, Conservative MP for Esher and Walton

Education: Dr Challoner’s Grammar School, Amersham, Oxford and Cambridge universities

Family: Married to Erika Ray, a Brazilian marketing executive. Two sons

Before politics: Foreign Office lawyer. He was the lead on a team focusing on bringing war criminals to justice at The Hague


It feels like he has been around forever, but three years ago Mr Raab wasn’t even in the government.

Now, as foreign secretary and first secretary of state, he is the UK government’s de-facto second-in-command.

The 46-year-old former lawyer was left in charge of running much of the government when the prime minister was hospitalised by Covid-19 – but Boris Johnson never formally relinquished control.

Mr Raab fronted several of the daily Downing Street coronavirus briefings when the crisis was at its height.

Pushed to give updates on the PM’s health, he told reporters: “I’m confident he’ll pull through because if there’s one thing I know about this prime minister, he’s a fighter. And he’ll be back at the helm, leading us through this crisis in short order.”

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Image caption

Dominic Raab met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in London in January

A married father of two, Mr Raab was born in 1974, the son of a Czech-born Jewish refugee who fled the Nazis in 1938.

He was was brought up in Buckinghamshire and attended Dr Challoner’s Grammar School in Amersham, before studying law at Oxford University and switching to Cambridge for his masters degree,

He worked as a lawyer in the commercial sector and the Foreign Office before entering politics in 2006 as an aide to Brexit-supporting Conservative MP David Davis, and then Remain-backing Dominic Grieve.

‘Gender warfare’

First elected to Parliament in 2010, the following year Mr Raab angered then-Home Secretary Theresa May by describing some feminists as “obnoxious bigots” in an online article also claiming men were getting “a raw deal”.

Mrs May accused him of fuelling “gender warfare”.

Mr Raab remained on the back benches for five years after becoming an MP.

But the karate black-belt became a junior justice minister following David Cameron’s general election victory in 2015.

He played a prominent role in the successful Leave campaign in the 2016 EU referendum, but was sacked by Mrs May when she took over as prime minister.

Leadership bid

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 Mrs 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 Mr Davis quit, the prime minister promoted Mr Raab to Brexit secretary, a cabinet post.

Yet his improved relationship with Mrs May did not last long. In November 2018, he quit, arguing 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 Mrs May’s withdrawal agreement with the EU, which MPs repeatedly rejected.

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

‘Get Brexit done’

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.

Mr Johnson, to whom Mr Raab gave his support after his elimination from the the race, promoted him to foreign secretary and first secretary of state – effectively deputy prime minister.

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.



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