Donald Macintyre's Sketch: Dominic Raab’s not rabid but he is dangerous

 

For an MP, let alone one with high-calibre experience as a government and business lawyer, Dominic Raab, first leafing busily through his papers, then shifting his position on the bench, seemed weirdly fidgety and nervous. So much so, you wondered if you should call the cops, who after all keep exhorting us: “If you see someone acting suspiciously. Don’t hesitate. Call 999.”

This was odd, since he was so obviously the man of the moment. But then maybe that was just it: that he knew his rebel Immigration Bill amendment would detonate the kind of medium-sized parliamentary explosion that must have left a shell-shocked Tory high command – if that’s still a meaningful term – wondering how it ever got into this rather peculiar mess.

Once on his feet, Raab, who knows his stuff having been a Foreign Office high flyer, and who is the son of a Czech-Jewish refugee who came to Britain in 1938, was confidence itself.

He was eloquent in making the case for the Home Secretary to have unfettered power to deport miscreants irrespective of their family ties. Among several cases, he cited that of “a man jailed twice for raping his partner [who] relied on his relationship with the same woman to avoid deportation successfully”.

He was praised by fellow MPs – including no less a Labour figure than Jack Straw, who said he was not a “foaming at the mouth” kind of Tory dissident. And anyone who summons up a revolt of this size – even in the current ultra-rebellious Tory party – is going to be treated with some respect in future.

But Theresa May was pretty robust in criticising the Raab approach, which in some respects “weaken our ability to deport foreign criminals”. She had clear legal advice that it was incompatible with the European Convention of Human Rights. This doesn’t worry the more “foaming in the mouth” of Raab’s supporters, of course – but she pointed out this would mean it would actually delay deportations because of “considerable legal wrangling”. 

Yet in the end (most of) the Opposition and the Lib Dems voted in accordance with what Ms May had said (making nice to each other in the process) – while she herself, along with the Prime Minister and their loyalists, did not. The rebellion was defeated, but not by them. The former Tory leader Lord (Michael) Howard, no softie on these issues, had criticised the Raab amendment and sensibly pointed out that, with 15 months until polling day, “it’s very important that we present the Conservative Party as a united party in the run-up to the election”.

It sounded like a distant echo from another age. 

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
news
New Articles
tvChristmas special reviewed
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
Life and Style
fashion
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Sport
sport
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Recruitment Genius: Account Manager

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This full service social media ...

Recruitment Genius: Data Analyst - Online Marketing

£24000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We are 'Changemakers in retail'...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all