Dominic Raab's fall from grace: From acting PM to dramatic demotion

15 September 2021, 17:16 | Updated: 17 September 2021, 18:01

Raab is said to have had a heated row with Boris Johnson after learning of his demotion
Raab is said to have had a heated row with Boris Johnson after learning of his demotion. Picture: Alamy

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Last year Dominic Raab effectively ran the country as Boris Johnson battled coronavirus in A&E.

As first secretary of state, his handling of some of the darkest days of the pandemic have since been praised.

The PM's former top aide Dominic Cummings lavished Mr Raab with compliments during an appearance before MPs earlier this year, saying he did a "brilliant" job and did not get ''enough credit as he should have done".

However, in recent weeks the former foreign secretary has received widespread criticism for his handling of the Afghanistan crisis.

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He was on holiday in Crete as the Taliban swept across the country, and seen relaxing on a beach on the Greek island as members of the militant group entered Kabul.

He has since insisted he was in touch with officials and ministerial colleagues, but today’s demotion shows the damage was done.

The Esher and Walton MP, who once had designs on Conservative Party leadership, now moves from the Foreign Office to the Ministry of Justice.

Amid reports of a heated row with the Prime Minister, he was also given the title of deputy prime minister.

Karate black belt Mr Raab quit his Cabinet role as Brexit secretary in 2018 in protest against Theresa May's approach to the issue.

He then played up his image as a Brexit hard man during the 2019 leadership race in an attempt to win support from the Tory right.

However, he fell at the second hurdle and subsequently backed Mr Johnson.

The 47-year-old has been MP for Esher and Walton since 2010 and before that was a Foreign Office lawyer.

His political career suffered an early setback, with Mrs May taking particular offence at his description of some feminists as "obnoxious bigots" in a 2011 online article in which he attacked the "equality bandwagon" and said men were getting "a raw deal".

During the 2019 leadership contest he said he would "probably not" describe himself as a feminist although he was "all for working women making the very best of their potential".

In 2020, at the height of Black Lives Matter protests, Mr Raab suggested "taking the knee" was a symbol of subjugation which originated in TV drama Game Of Thrones, adding he only kneels for "the Queen and the missus when I asked her to marry me".

The son of a Czech-born Jewish refugee who fled the Nazis in 1938, Mr Raab was brought up in Buckinghamshire and took a law degree at Oxford University before switching to Cambridge for his masters.

He competed in karate for 17 years, winning two British southern region titles, and making the UK squad.

Mr Raab also enjoyed boxing at university and claims it has been "pretty good in terms of preparing me for other big moments", although "nothing has ever wracked me with nerves quite the same way".

The senior Tory denied claims, made by his former diary secretary in 2018, that he insisted on the same Pret A Manger lunch every day.

The "Dom Raab special" apparently consisted of a chicken Caesar and bacon baguette, superfruit pot and a vitamin volcano smoothie.