Dominic Raab: Boris’ stand-in PM whose Czech father fled the Nazis


DOMINIC Raab is now standing-in for the top job after Boris Johnson was hospitalised after being infected with coronavirus.

The Foreign Secretary will take on the toughest gig at a time of national crisis.

Dominic Raab was an amateur boxer while at Cambridge University
Dominic Raab with his father
Mr Raab has two kids with his wife Erika

Mr Johnson has asked Mr Raab to step in and take on his prime ministerial duties for him while he fights the deadly virus in an intensive care unit at St Thomas’ Hospital.

The Foreign Minister will be running the government, but won’t have weekly meetings with the Queen. 

But he will be able to hold National Security meetings under his new powers.

Some Tory MPs were not very happy about Mr Raab’s elevation, and were pushing for fellow Brexiteer Michael Gove to be given extra power.

One Minister said last week: “a lot of people think that Michael should be running the show’ if Mr Johnson became incapacitated and that ‘one of these people is Michael, of course”.

Mr Raab is not the formal deputy PM but is next in line as the First Secretary of State, so will fill the role while the PM can’t.

If Mr Raab couldn’t take on the duties, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak would be called on.

Mr Raab is a father-of-two, married to a Brazilian ex-Google marketing executive called Erika, and boasts of his karate skills as well as his political career.

His website says he “holds a black  belt 3rd dan in karate and is a former US Southern Regions champion and British squad member”.

While Mr Johnson presided over the Oxford Union while at university, Mr Raab captained the Oxford University karate club, where he studied law.

He was also a member of the university’s famous amateur boxing club.

Mr Raab’s boxing credentials back up the tough guy persona he has created in politics – he even handed over pictures of himself in shorts and a vest to a TV channel use for their profile of him.

The Foreign Secretary has a poster of Muhammad Ali in his House of Commons office and still trains at his local boxing club in Surrey.

Former Brexit Secretary David Davis was more impressed with Mr Raab’s karate black belt than his TWO degrees – an undergraduate from Oxford and a masters from Cambridge – when he gave him the job as his chief of staff.

Mr Raab is the MP for Esher and Walton
Mr Raab at home in Surrey with his wife

Mr Raab has said he turned to karate to help him deal with the grief of losing his father when he was only twelve.

His father, Peter, fled to the UK from Czechoslovakia when he was just six-years-old to escape the Nazis, but died of cancer when Mr Raab was a boy.

It wasn’t the last tragedy to strike a young Mr Raab – his mother later died by suicide.

He said last year: “Sport helped restore my confidence, and that hugely benefited my attitude to school and life.”

“There were strong role models, camaraderie and an ethos of respect.”

“I take the discipline and focus I learnt from sport into my professional life – and I believe that approach is vital to making a success of the Brexit negotiations and delivering a fairer deal from Brussels.”

During the leadership campaign he released pictures of his Jewish relatives who were murdered in the Holocaust and paid tribute to his dad’s incredible story.

Peter Raab escaped from his home country, being forced to leave most of his family behind to be murdered for their beliefs.

The stand-in PM was born in Buckinghamshire, grew up in Gerrards Cross and went to Dr Challoner’s Grammar School, before going to Oxford University.

The importance of respect he learnt from boxing and karate translated into his political career, and he was upset by civil servants who anonymously described him as a bully when he was the Brexit Secretary.

He denied claims by his former diary secretary that he insisted on the same Pret a Manger lunch every day.

His daily order was apparently a chicken Caesar salad, bacon baguette, superfruit pot and vitamin volcano smoothie – a meal fit for a boxer.

Dominic Raab’s extended family who were killed in the Holocaust
Dominic Raab with his wife Erika
Dominic Raab has been Foreign Secretary since July 2019

Mr Raab, who is the MP for the seat of Esher and Walton, ran against the PM to be Tory party leader after Theresa May resigned.

He’s served in his current post since July 2019.

Before that he had a very brief stint as the Brexit Secretary but quit in protest of Mrs May’s plans for Brexit.

Altogether he’s had just over one year of Cabinet experience – eight months under Mr Johnson, and five for Mrs May.

Mr Raab was given his First Secretary and Foreign Secretary gig after he backed down from the Tory leadership.

Many politicians and pundits expected him to be given a good spot – but not the second top job.

But Mr Raab is a hardline Brexiteer, and his position in Cabinet makes sense given Boris’ promise to get Brexit done.

He was one of the most vocal supporters of leaving the EU and his appointment gave other Brexiteers the conviction in the PM to really deliver on Brexit.

But Downing Street made clear the First Secretary would step in if the PM needed him to.

Dominic Raab quit as Brexit Secretary under Theresa May

Since taking up the post Mr Raab had to wade into the thorny diplomatic controversy over the death of British teenager Harry Dunn.

The teen was killed when his motorbike crashed into a car near Northamptonshire in August last year.

The young boy’s parents tried to heckle Mr Raab at a constituency hustings because they felt he hadn’t helped get justice for their son by failing to pursuade the US to extradite Harry’s alleged killer – Anne Sacoolas.

He has also had to manage the controversial issue of repatriation of children of British jihadists.

He got himself into hot water in May 2017 when he said that people who use food banks are not typically in poverty but have an occasional “cashflow problem”.

Critics labelled the remarks “stupid and deeply offensive”.

Last year, he threatened to keep open the option of suspending Parliament to prevent MPs blocking Brexit.

He was the target of a relentless campaign in his Surrey seat in last years election and was almost ousted.

His previous majority of 20,000 votes was shrunk to just 3,000 – and now he’s the de facto Prime Minister.