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. 

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Maths Teacher

£120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you an enthusiastic Maths Tea...

Urgently looking for Qualified Teachers and NQT's

£110 - £120 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Urgently looking for Qua...

SEN Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you that teacher who c...

SEN Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Are you that teacher who c...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform