1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

UK: Dominic Raab resigns over bullying allegations

April 21, 2023

British Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary Dominic Raab has resigned from Rishi Sunak's government amid an investigation into allegations of bullying. Raab disputed the report's findings despite stepping down.

Dominic Raab in front of the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office
Raab had promised to resign if the bullying complaints were upheldImage: Toby Melville/REUTERS

British Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab announced his resignation from Rishi Sunak's Conservative government on Friday morning. 

Raab said he was quitting because he had promised to step down if the inquiry "made any finding of bullying whatsoever." 

"I believe it is important to keep my word," he said. 

However, Raab also took issue with the inquiry's findings. 

"Whilst I feel duty bound to accept the outcome of the inquiry, it dismissed all but two of the claims leveled against me," he said. "I also believe that its two adverse findings are flawed and set a dangerous precedent for the conduct of good government."

Shortly after Raab's resignation, the British government named Oliver Dowden deputy prime minister.

Dowden, currently serving as cabinet office minister, was previously chairman of the Conservative Party but resigned from that post last June after two crushing by-election defeats for the party.

Meanwhile, lawmaker Alex Chalk was appointed as new justice minister, a position held by Raab.

Review pending since November allegations

Raab had requested the review in November following formal complaints from civil servants.  

Raab had previously said he did not believe himself guilty of workplace bullying but that he would not apologize for what he called a "forthright" approach to his work. 

Dominic Raab and Heiko Maas, then British and German foreign ministers, pose holding each other's national team football jersey on June 29, 2021, ahead of a match between England and Germany.
Internationally, Raab is probably best known either for his stint as foreign minister under Boris Johnson, or for his leading role in the Brexit campaign before most mainstream Conservative politicians had declared for the movementImage: Janine Schmitz/photothek/imago images

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's office on Thursday confirmed receipt of the inquiry's findings on Raab, and had said it was considering its next step. The opposition Labour Party had accused Sunak of dithering on the issue. 

Sunak said on Friday that he accepted Raab's resignation with "great sadness," but that it was also important for government ministers to demand high standards of civil servants.

Raab criticizes as-yet-unpublished findings

Raab's resignation letter made clear he questioned the extent to which the report, which has not been made public, incriminated him. 

He said both that government ministers "must be able to exercise direct oversight with respect to senior officials over critical negotiations conducted on behalf of the British people," and that they "must be able to give direct critical feedback on briefings and submissions to senior officials, in order to set the standards and drive the reform the public expect of us." 

"In setting the threshold for bullying so low, this inquiry has set a dangerous precedent," Raab said. "It will encourage spurious complaints against Ministers, and have a chilling effect on those driving change on behalf of your government — and ultimately the British people." 

According to Raab's account of the probe against him, investigator Adam Tolley "concluded that I had not once, in four and a half years, sworn or shouted at anyone, let alone thrown anything or otherwise physically intimidated anyone, nor sought to belittle anyone."

Raab said he intended to continue supporting Prime Minister Sunak's government from the back benches. 

Third misconduct Cabinet scalp in a matter of months

Raab becomes the third member of Sunak's Cabinet to go since November. 

Another senior minister, Gavin Williamson, was forced to resign in November, also after bullying allegations. 

And in January, the prime minister sacked Conservative Party chair Nadhim Zahawi after he was found to have broken the ministerial code by failing to disclose that he was facing a tax dispute worth millions. 

Sunak himself faces an impropriety investigation, over whether he properly declared his wife's shareholding in a childcare company which stands to benefit from new government policy.

The 42-year-old of Punjabi descent, Britain's first Hindu and non-white prime minister, is trying to right the Conservative ship after Boris Johnson's scandal-ridden departure, and Liz Truss' noteworthy but short-lived tenure in the few weeks thereafter.

Although the party has recovered some ground against Labour from its lowest point in the polls around October of last year, it is expected to fare poorly in local elections in two weeks' time.

The government is also grappling with a series of strikes, often in the public sector, over inflation and pay that have been causing disruption.

msh/nm (AFP, AP, dpa, Reuters)