Why I’m backing Dominic Raab

I support Raab because he’s a Leaver, a firm Eurosceptic and a clean Brexiteer. One of the major problems with Theresa May was that she lacked authenticity and conviction in the negotiations as she herself both campaigned and vote for us to remain in the EU. Therefore, it was much harder for the EU’s negotiators to take her and her redlines seriously. They were right to doubt her conviction, particularly with regard to he threat that we’d leave with no deal if we didn’t get the concessions we needed, as she later ended up wrongly backing down and asking for multiple delays to Brexit and extensions to the exit date. While it is true that she appointed Leave-supporting MPs to the post of Brexit Secretary, they were often sidelined and undermined by a Remain-supporting Cabinet with an overwhelmingly Remain-supporting Cabinet. As both Steve Baker (former junior Brexit Minister) and David Davis (former Brexit Secretary) have admitted, they had been planning right from the start in the DEXEU for a bilateral, Canada plus-style Free Trade Agreement but then, the PM suddenly and without their knowledge or permission completely changed tack, seeking this new “deep and special partnership” which led to Chequers and the mess we now find ourselves in. It’s worth remembering that the PM is and has always been in overall charge of Brexit, the stances we take, the lines the negotiators take and the redlines. Bear in mind also that it was an act solely of her Executive power which delayed our leaving and extended the exit date. Raab has stated that, particularly on the backstop, he was prevented by May and her Cabinet from being firmer, more resolute and from pushing them hard enough to get the right deal. The EU’s Chief Brexit Negotiator, Barnier, and the European Parliament’s Brexit Negotiator, Guy Verhofstat, have both admitted that Raab went further than May, pushed harder than her for backstop concessions and was much firmer and more resolute. As Raab is himself a long-term, genuine clean Brexiteer, this will give him much more confidence of his own position, allow him to seize the opportunities and advantages of leaving, regardless of whether or not we get a deal in a way May didn’t not. She and her government saw it, as many have observed, as merely being a rather “dour damage-limitation exercise” and so solely in a negative way and were thus very reluctant to leave without a deal and so were willing to give in and surrender, no matter as grovelling the concession, as Peter Lilley MP has observed. As Raab is a Brexiteer, the EU’s negotiators will him personally much more seriously.

Additionally, Raab has very wisely voted to keep leaving with no deal on the table. Without this, we would have no leverage whatsoever in these negotiations as we’d be so scared of leaving without a deal that we’d give into the EU’s demands on everything. However, Raab is a realistic, practical pragmatist, rather than an ideologically-wedded political purist and so when the PM started to backslide on her redlines, rather than simply huffing and puffing from the comfort of an armchair on the sidelines, Raab got stuck in and fought to salvage the Brexit deal, accepting the role of Brexit Secretary.

His realism and pragmatism were also shown in the fact that only on the May’s third attempt to get the Withdrawal Agreement through, Raab held his nose and voted for it as a necessary evil and as the lesser of two evils. Now here some Conservatives criticise him for backing down. However, I think his move was the least worse course of action in a very difficult set of circumstances. He had previously entered the DEXEU to salvage the deal but was then undermined and sidelined by the PM and her Cabinet, resigning to try to put pressure on the PM to change course. Still, she did not so change course, so he then voted against the deal twice in a row. Still she did not, despite facing the worst defeat for any sitting Government in in parliamentary history. It was very clear when she announced that she would be bringing exactly the same Withdrawal Agreement back to the Commons yet again, that she was not going to change course in the direction that Eurosceptics wanted. It’s also worth bearing in mind the following additional points. First, it wasn’t technically a meaningful vote under Section 13. Second, May’s lousy Political Declaration on the future relationship (most important part of the negotiations) had been separated off from the WA on the third vote. Third, May agreed to go so we’d have a new committed Brexiteer leader with a fresh approach, vision and redlines they’d stick to. Fourth, as May had wrongly ruled out ever leaving with no deal, this meant that if the WA didn’t pass that third time, delay and pointless EU elections were inevitable. This would have broken major promises. Finally, the WA’s failure on third attempt increased the likelihood of no Brexit, Customs Union membership and a second referendum and directly led to us entering into doomed, silly talks with our sworn enemy (Corbyn). None of the declared candidates in this leadership election voted against the Agreement all three times and remember that Raab only voted for it on the third reading as it was, in those particular circumstances, the lesser of two evils. Even if Steve Baker (who voted against it all three times) were to run, he has no Cabinet experience at all and so would not, in my opinion, have the experience under his belt to go straight into being Prime Minister. I can’t think of a Conservative backbencher with no Cabinet experience immediately becoming Party Leader, let alone Prime Minister.

He is a clear and confident communicator and orator and has a wealth of government, ministerial and Cabinet experience, mostly helpfully in the DEXEU but also as a junior Minister in the Department of Justice and in the Housing Department. He is the only candidate to have been Brexit Secretary and to have that close-hand experience under his belt. He rightly supports free trade, a small state, low taxes and the right level of regulation, all of which reduce consumer costs, increase competition and improve living standards for all. Finally, he’s a genuine, bold supporter of true gender equality and egalitarianism.

Excellent, author of multiple books, very eloquent, charismatic orator and speaker. Details man, experience of negotiations at FCO, as lawyer, all over the details, as Brexit Secretary. Not an ideological purist that he wouldn’t get himself involved but chose to accept brief of Brexit Secretary to salvage the deal. Unfortunately he was undermined by the overarching guidelines set by the PM and other Cabinet Members. She and the Cabinet were not resolute or firm enough about getting changes and clarifications to the backstop, and didn’t stick to their key redline that no deal is better than a bad deal.

He’s an individualist and is an authentic, genuine free and original thinker who makes decision by, with and for himself, closely and carefully examining the arguments each way, and coming to his final conclusion after detailed deliberation. He is excellent at thinking on his feet in interviews, debates, committee hearings and seems to say something different, unique, new, fresh and original from other politicians. This is shown clearly in the following two recent videos:

He is all over the details, having trained as a lawyer and having worked to convict war criminals at the Hague. These skills are, I think, best shown in his four Committee hearings on Brexit as embedded below:

He does not merely regurgitate pre-rehearsed lines from the Whips’ Office emails or seek opinion polling on possible views before taking a side. No, he says what he thinks, he says what he means and he means what he says. He is a very good debater, thinking well on his feet and responding very well to unexpected questions. He is impeccably polite and well-mannered but sticks to his principles.

He has had already had a large number of public endorsements from Conservative MPs from right across the different wings of the party. For example, Maria Miller MP (the Chair of the Women and Equalities Committee) from the “One Nation” wing of the Party was one of the first people to endorse him, including a good number of MOs who supported Leave in 2016. Additionally, he has attracted the support of both leavers, remainers and re-leavers across the Parliamentary Party and amongst grassroots Party members.

Raab is rightly for genuine gender equality, but is correctly opposed to today’s new age militant feminism, positive discrimination, all-women/women-only shortlists and gender-based which wrongly discriminate against today’s innocent men who have done nothing wrong. Two wrongs don’t make a right and positive discrimination never even attempts to deal with the root cause of problems, it merely tries to artificial enforce a certain outcome in a discriminatory, unfair and unequal way. For example, with the lack of women in the House of Commons, the root cause here is that not enough women are themselves choosing to apply to become MPs in the first place. That is a mathematical fact, consistently, more women than men apply to become MPs and so we shouldn’t be particularly surprised today that there are indeed more male MPs than female ones. If more women themselves choose not apply to become MPs, that is their own decision and it is not for us to judge them or criticise them for that decision. What we should be doing to tackle the issue of there being less female MPs in Parliament is encouraging more women to apply in the first place, not artificially and wrongly discriminating against innocent men and preventing them from applying via all-women shortlists, for example. In the Labour Party, you don’t just have to be female to get onto the all-women shortlist, you also have to be a “pro-choice woman” and so it is clear that here at least, partisan politics has interfered with feminism and tainted and stained it. I’d also add that the implied presumption behind positive discrimination is that if women and men competed on a level playing field, the men would always win and the women wouldn’t be able to win which is clearly ridiculous. Gender should completely irrelevant in these matters and what should count is the content of the character of the individual, the personality, their skills and abilities and their policies, not what their gender happens to be. Raab is rightly truly meritocratic and a real believer in individualism and social mobility, and his background (he went to a grammar school, rather than a public school) shows his ability to work his way up.

Raab rightly supports further cuts to tax for the lowest paid, ensuring that they keep more of their own money and can choose to spend their money how they like and on their own priorities. He supports both lowering University tuition fess and reviewing stamp tax. Additionally, he favours degree apprenticeships and making more alternatives to university for those who are more practical in their skills and he supports having more grammar schools, starting with setting up new one in the most socially-deprived areas, ensuring they have the very best chance of supporting those from the most deprived.

To sign up to Raab’s campaign for leader and/or to find out more about him and his proposed policies, please visit dominicraab2019.com

By Ben Somervell

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