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Dominic Raab

Position: Member: Joint Committee on Human Rights 2010-

Last Updated: Friday, February 4th, 2011

Of the 147 new Conservative MPs elected last year, one who is seriously beginning to make some waves on the backbenches is Dominic Raab, who inherited the Esher and Walton seat vacated by the long-standing Europhile, Ian Taylor.

He is not even a member of a departmental select committee, but his strongly held views on civil liberties, human rights and equality issues are getting him noticed and he is demonstrating how backbench MPs can use parliamentary and media outlets to help set the agenda.  

The son of a Czech refugee, he was born in 1974 and attended a Buckinghamshire grammar school before continuing his education at Oxbridge – Oxford and Cambridge: he read Law at Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford and later gained a Masters in International Law from Jesus College, Cambridge.

He embarked upon a legal career working at Linklaters in the late 1990s, which saw him seconded at various points to their Brussels office and to the campaign group, Liberty, both of which were an early sign of his political interests to come. He then spent six years working as a legal advisor at the Foreign Office, including a posting to The Hague where he led the UK’s war crimes team.

Raab then left the civil service to work as chief of staff to successive shadow home secretaries, David Davis and Dominic Grieve, where his staunch belief in the need to scale back state interference and defend personal freedom was able to inform Conservative party policy. During that time he wrote a book on the subject, The Assault on Liberty – What Went Wrong With Rights, before going on to win the highly competitive selection for the plum Surrey seat of Esher and Walton towards the end of 2009.

Since his arrival in Parliament he has only voted against the Government once so far – in November on a motion relating to EU economic governance – although his views on matters European are relatively robust: he strongly opposes further political integration, preferring variable geometry – the multi-speed model – for Britain’s relations with the EU.

However, over the past month he has made a series of interventions which suggest that whilst he is politically ambitious, he will be content for the time being with making his voice heard from the backbenches rather than from the Despatch Box.

Firstly, he has been outspoken in his demand for control orders to be abolished and was not entirely satisfied with their replacement as announced by Home Secretary, Theresa May.

But it was his next intervention which provoked the wrath of May in her guise as minister for equality. Writing for PoliticsHome – http://j.mp/hLesWe – Raab made a scathing attack on Britain’s equality legislation, suggesting that “feminists are now amongst the most obnoxious bigots” and that much of the most “flagrant discrimination” today was against men. He was then slapped down by May in the same Commons question time session at which she recommitted David Cameron to ensuring a third of ministers were women by 2015 – a move that has the potential to further rile the likes of Raab, who may lose out on a red box as a result.

And right now he is a co-signatory to the motion tabled by his old boss, David Davis, which condemns the ECHR’s ruling on giving prisoners voting rights, which will be debated next Thursday.

Don’t be surprised if you hear a lot more from Raab over the coming months. He has an interest in economic matters (he’s a doughty believer in lower taxes) and was runner-up to David Ruffley in a ballot of Tory MPs when the most recent vacancy arose on the Treasury select committee, so that may be an area on which he will be vocal in due course.

A boxer at university, he is also a former member of the British karate squad and believes that politics should be conducted in a similar spirit – “robust and competitive on the substance, but respectful in person”. He is married to Erika, a Brazilian who works in marketing for an IT firm.

Jonathan Isaby

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