Before this week, Dominic Raab was best known for two things: his staunch support of Brexit and his spat with British Prime Minister Theresa May.
Raab will replace mentor David Davis as Brexit secretary this week. Davis, who served for two years as secretary of state for exiting the European Union, stepped down Sunday, saying he felt May had given away “too much, too easily” in Brexit talks with the E.U.
Few people are more qualified for the job.
Raab is the son of a Czech-born Jewish refugee who fled the Nazis in 1938. He studied international law at Oxford and Cambridge, then took a job at the law firm Linklaters. There, he represented Palestinian officials during the Oslo peace accord negotiations. “He’s very courteous and will always listen to different sides of the argument,” a former colleague told the Guardian.
In 2000, Raab joined the Foreign Office, working on relations with the E.U. and helping prosecute war criminals. He also defended then-Prime Minister Tony Blair when he was subpoenaed by former Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic, a war criminal. By 2006, Raab was working directly for Davis.
In 2010, Raab was elected as the representative for the Esher and Walton constituency in Parliament. He was appointed civil liberties minister in the Ministry of Justice in 2015, according to the BBC.
Raab campaigned hard for the “Leave” campaign in 2016, and he has called on Britain to take a firmer stance in the Brexit talks. In the past, he has urged Britain to show more “economic self-confidence” in negotiations. According to the BBC, he is “relaxed” about a no-deal scenario.
He may face some pushback, however, from his new boss. May and Raab have clashed for nearly a decade. While in the Ministry of Justice, he repeatedly challenged May (then home secretary), pushing for fewer regulations and stronger civil liberties. In 2011, he published an article calling some feminists “obnoxious bigots” and suggesting that men ought to “burn their briefs” because they are getting such a “raw deal.” May suggested that the piece fueled “gender warfare.”
When asked more recently, Raab said he believes in “girl power to the core” but also defended his column. “I’m just making a very simple point about double standards, and actually you corrode the value of equality if you don’t get consistency,” he said. “But I don’t run away from it.”