Dominic Raab arrives in Yorkshire today to speak with businesses in his new role as Brexit Secretary after setting out his ambitious aims for delivering a British departure from the European Union that satisfies Leave voters who want a meaningful break with Brussels while also protecting the nation’s economic interests.
Striking a deal with his European counterpart Michel Barnier will not be an easy task, given the considerable opposition to the Government’s Chequers plan both in Brussels and at home. One poll shows disillusioned voters are looking further right for answers, with almost one-quarter of those asked ready to support an explicitly anti-immigrant party amidst mounting anger about the current proposals.
The position has also not been assisted by the intervention of former Brexit Secretary David Davis, who has suggested Prime Minister Theresa May should “start again” on withdrawal plans.
Despite the difficulties he faces, Mr Raab’s attempts to solve the many and varied conundrums thrown up by the Brexit process should be assisted by his personal background. Married to a Brazilian wife and the son of the Czech-born Jewish father who came to Britain to escape the Holocaust, Mr Raab knows the value of immigration, while his role in Vote Leave also highlights his understanding of why voters wanted the nation to be master of its own destiny.
Equally, as a former lawyer, it is to be hoped he will be able to demonstrate the right mixture of pragmatism and the ability to drive a hard bargain when it comes to the increasingly knife-edge negotiations.
He would also do well to heed the wise words of Sir John Major who says MPs should have ‘people, people, people’ at the forefront of their minds when making decisions about Brexit. The economic and political stakes facing Mr Raab and colleagues are growing by the day.