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HENRY DEEDES: How Dominic Raab’s karate child was a war victim

Conservative MP Dominic Raab while in Oxford, where he won a blue for boxing
HENRY DEEDES: How Dominic Raab’s karate child was a war victim

When Dominic Raab gets crossed, the furrowed forehead of his tends to thump. His jaw tightens and his eyes flare like light bulbs.

We saw a lot of it when he marched into Downing Street yesterday to be told he was shunted from the State Department to the dusty old Department of Justice.

Uha he looked like the cross. A martial arts black belt, I would not be surprised if the super-shaped 47-year-old gave his desk a fierce karate bar later on in his new ward.

Irrespective of who Raab’s exit may be, it will evoke some sympathy after his handling of the Afghanistan crisis.

As the Taliban advanced to Kabul, he inexplicably chose to stay in a luxury hotel in Crete rather than return home to ring the phones of Afghan politicians on behalf of stranded British nationals and Afghan interpreters now in fear for their lives.

Conservative MP Dominic Raab while in Oxford, where he won a blue for boxing

His exit will also not be much regretted in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Judging by some of the funny briefings against him that have been coming from there for the last few weeks, there may have been a bottle or two of blanc de blancs popping up along Whitehall last night.

It all comes as a bitter blow to a fiercely driven individual who has so far largely known only success.

He was the son of Czech immigrants and started at Linklaters, the best city council firm in town known for paying Premier League-style salaries.

A period in the State Department followed in which he helped prosecute war criminals.

He won the parliamentary seat for Esher in 2010 after cutting his political teeth and working as chief of staff for David Davis.

He was apparently a demanding taskmaster, but for all his obvious strengths, Raab has always lacked a certain human touch. This would partly explain why his leadership campaign after Theresa May’s eradication from No. 10 never even got a boost.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab walks outside the FCDO in London

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab walks outside the FCDO in London

Despite decent support within the party, his speech went down like an outdated pilchard. ‘Boring’ was the verdict I heard mumbling over and over again by grassroots members.

When the prime minister was rushed into the ICU with Covid last year, his de facto deputy rabbit-in-headlights on TV hardly inspired confidence among a nervous voter.

However, colleagues insist that Raab performed its stand-in duties in an admirable manner. His reward was to be assigned to the Department of International Development in an Extended Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

Members of the British and American military engaged in the evacuation of people from Kabul, Afghanistan

Members of the British and American military engaged in the evacuation of people from Kabul, Afghanistan

As the Raab empire grew, so did his holdings in Westminster. It all came to a standstill in August when he chose a few more days in Med over a return to FO. A slave’s appearance before the select Foreign Affairs Committee later sealed his fate.

Living against falling out with anyone, Boris has embellished Raab with the title of Deputy Prime Minister. But it’s a soup for a man whose ambition puts him in a belief he deserves so much more.

As the new Deputy Prime Minister left Downing Street yesterday, a reporter shouted, ‘How does it feel to be the next Nick Clegg?’

Once again, the Raab forehead pulsed. It was a derogatory deviation to a degrading day.

A sliding python that did not pass the grade: HENRY DEEDES says goodbye to Education Minister Gavin Williamson

Leave schemes. Gavin Williamson was the organless minister whose boyish smile and Frank Spencer voice have always believed in a more shady nature.

Considered distinctly unreliable by both colleagues and opponents, he glides through the corridors of the Palace of Westminster as a python glides around the jungles of Borneo.

After graduation failure — and a lying capitulation to unions about reopening schools after lockdown — the 45-year-old’s firing as education secretary yesterday was inevitable. Still, it has been said that subsequent PMs have been too scared to ruffle Gavs curly curls.

Leave schemes.  Gavin Williamson was the organless minister whose boyish laugh and Frank Spencer voice have always believed in a more shady nature

Leave schemes. Gavin Williamson was the organless minister whose boyish laugh and Frank Spencer voice have always believed in a more shady nature

Here, after all, is a man who never gets tired of reminding colleagues that he ‘knows where the bodies were buried’. To quote Lyndon Johnson – who said it about J Edgar Hoover – Boris thought it was better to get Williamson to pee out of the tent than to pee in ‘. Until now.

For such a calculation figure, one might have thought that Gavin enjoyed one of the mysteriously vague careers with impressive credentials. In fact, before becoming MP for Staffordshire in 2010, he was head of the fireplace company Elgin & Hall.

His subsequent rise to the slippery slope of Parliament has fascinated colleagues who marveled at his ability to change allegiance faster than slurping a shovel.

He once promised that Johnson would never get the top job as long as Gav was nearby – yet the lukewarm Williamson ended up running his leadership campaign.

Considered to be distinctly unreliable by both colleagues and opponents, he glides through the corridors of the Palace of Westminster in the manner of a python gliding around the jungles of Borneo

Considered to be distinctly unreliable by both colleagues and opponents, he glides through the corridors of the Palace of Westminster in the manner of a python gliding around the jungles of Borneo

Under Theresa May, he ran the whip office, where colleagues compared him to Francis Urquhart in Michael Dobb’s political satire House Of Cards. Dobbs even gave him a copy of his book with the caption: ‘This is a work of fiction, not instruction.’ Despite not knowing a cruiser from a carrier, he was promoted to Secretary of Defense. He put mustache to move after the poisonings in Salisbury by telling the Russians to ‘go away and shut up’.

The loose lips are said to have gotten him fired under Huawei hoo-haa over the UK’s 5G network-although he denied being the source of a leak about the deal.

He did not lurk long on the sidelines when Boris soon rewarded him with the education letter.

But rather than any political legacy, it is Gavin’s taste in pets that seems most likely to live long in memory. He was always desperate to portray himself as a cabinet enforcer and kept a tarantula on his desk named Cronus – after the Greek god who ate his own children.

Unfortunately, Gav’s eight-legged friend left for the large cobweb in the sky some time ago. After yesterday, it looks like his master’s career is dead, too.

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