Boris Johnson's Stand-In as U.K. Premier Is a Blunt Former Lawyer

  • In World
  • 2020-04-06 23:41:14Z
  • By Bloomberg

(Bloomberg) -- The man at the helm of the British government while Boris Johnson is hospitalized, Dominic Raab, is a former Foreign Office lawyer who has been both an ally and a rival to his boss.

During the Brexit campaign in 2016, Raab campaigned alongside Johnson successfully to break away from the European Union. Three years later, the pair stood against each other in the Conservative Party's leadership contest.

Johnson won, and then triumphed again in the general election that followed, but it is Raab who is now in charge of the government as the prime minister receives treatment in intensive care.

Raab, 46, has been in Parliament since 2010, but he struggled to rise under former Prime Minister David Cameron. Instead, he became a troublemaker, asking awkward questions of the government and then backing Brexit. That upset voters in his southwest London district, and he came close to losing the usually safe Conservative seat in last year's election despite a national surge for the Tories.

His chance for prominence came in 2018 when then-Brexit Secretary David Davis resigned. The prime minister at the time, Theresa May, needed someone with solid pro-Brexit credentials who was capable of handing negotiations with the European Union. She settled on Raab. But he lasted less than five months in the job before following Davis out of the door in protest at May's strategy.

He ran for the party leadership in 2019, making it to the final six before being eliminated. His endorsement of Johnson at that point probably helped him to his current role of foreign secretary.

The kind of clever lawyer who doesn't mind telling people they're wrong, he can irritate others. But he's also been a conciliator, and is probably the only member of Parliament to have both lived on an Israeli kibbutz and studied at Ramallah University. He's worked for Dominic Grieve, a leading Tory pro-European, and arch-Brexiteer Davis.

The son of a Jewish Czech refugee who was raised in the Church of England before marrying a Brazilian Catholic, Raab defies easy categorization: sometimes blunt, sometimes charming.

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