Ex-Brexit secretary Dominic Raab says Boris Johnson is ‘not an ally’ amid leadership speculation

Mr Raab also refuses to be drawn on whether he would stand in a future Tory leadership contest

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Sunday 18 November 2018 13:15
Dominic Raab: Boris Johnson is 'not an ally', amid speculation that the two are vying to be the main Brexit candidate a future Tory leadership contest

Dominic Raab has said that Boris Johnson is “not an ally”, amid speculation that the two are vying to be the main Brexit candidate in a future Tory leadership contest.

After dramatically resigning from government just days ago, the former Brexit secretary refused to be drawn on whether he would stand in a future battle should Theresa May be toppled or stand aside.

Reiterating his opposition to the prime minister’s withdrawal agreement, he also accused the European Union of “blackmail” and suggested the UK was “being bullied” by the bloc.

His remarks came as speculation gathered pace over Ms May facing a no confidence vote, but Mr Raab said he was supportive of her leadership as he urged colleagues not to submit letters to the chair of the 1922 Committee, Sir Graham Brady.

Earlier, the prime minister had said a change in leadership “isn’t going to make the negotiations any easier” and would not alter the parliamentary arithmetic.

Pressed on the BBC about his own demands for a Brexit agreement, presenter Andrew Marr asked Mr Raab: “To quote your ally Boris Johnson, you’re trying to have your cake and eat it.”

The former minister replied: “With fairness, you say Boris Johnson is my ally – he is a friend and good colleague – but he’s not an ally.”

“I would never in these circumstances send a letter into the 1922 committee – I don’t think that’s right. I also think all of this leadership stuff is a total distraction from the historic moment that we have, which is to get this deal over the line.”

But Mr Raab refused to be drawn on whether he would stand in any future contest, adding: “I’m not even getting sucked into all of that.

“I’m supportive of the prime minister, I’m not going to be supporting anyone that is sending in letters to the 1922 committee. In a vote of no confidence, I would support her.”

In comments reported by The Sunday Times, however, one serving cabinet minister said that a contest would be “Raab’s to lose” while a former minister added: “Dominic has shown leadership by resigning. It’s probably down to him or Boris [Johnson] from our side of things.”

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Raab added that Ms May’s Brexit deal is “fatally flawed”, and could be remedied by just “two or three points” being changed. He said that the customs backstop plan for the Irish border meant the UK would remain tied to the EU with no say and no way of independently freeing itself.

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