With her government in crisis, Prime Minister Theresa May has appointed conservative MP Dominic Raab to succeed David Davis as the UK's Brexit Secretary after Davis resigned last night in protest of a plan that, in his words, gives "too much away, too easily."
Previously a minister for housing and planning in the Home Office, libertarian lawyer Raab was a prominent supporter of Brexit during the referendum campaign and co-founded a group called Change Britain, which evolved out of Vote Leave, according to the Financial Times. Given his hardliner status, May is once again embracing a policy of "replacing like for like" according to the Guardian, which commented that May's government "increasingly resembles one of those foreign states where posts in government are divided up among religious sects." However, despite his leading role in the Vote Leave campaign, Raab is seen as a "pragmatic" and "cerebral" Brexiteer and not a "hard-line" ideologue.
While some would characterize Raab's appointment as a snub to Michael Gove, whom May does not yet fully trust with such a sensitive role after firing him from her cabinet when she became PM, the Guardian pointed out that Raab's name was on a list of ministers who could be chosen to replace anyone who chose to resign from May's cabinet.
But perhaps the key thing to remember about Raab's appointment is that he has already voiced support for the possibility of an extension of the "Leave" timetable (as it stands, the UK is set to leave the EU with or without a deal in March, two years after May first invoked article 50, setting the process in motion).
Though May has repeatedly denied she would pursue an extension, in Brussels it is already widely assumed that one will be needed. Raab reportedly said during an interview on a popular political podcast last week that he's already accepted the fact that implementing Brexit might require "more time."
Leavers should be prepared for a bridge to Brexit that is “rocky” & “takes more time” says @DominicRaab. What matters is that the “end state” is good. Political Thinking podcast out now.— Nick Robinson (@bbcnickrobinson) July 5, 2018
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Another consequence of Raab's appointment, according to the Guardian, is that housing policy - something that was supposed to be a top priority for May's government - has once again taken a back seat.
Raab served as housing minister for six months, and his successor in the job will be the eighth housing minister since 2010. Raab will now take over day-to-day negotiations with the European Union's Michel Barnier. The European Commission has declined to comment on the change, saying it will negotiate with "good will" to try and reach an agreement with whoever is in the role, according to the BBC. Davis said in an interview with the BBC that Raab will likely be "very effective" in his role, and that he would soon brief him on "what the pitfalls are" in his new role.
Meanwhile, May's Labour opponents said his appointment "changed nothing" and that "it's now clearer than ever that Theresa May does not have the authority to negotiate for Britain or deliver a Brexit deal that protects jobs and the economy." And with a "large number" of conservative MPs preparing to vote against Friday's Brexit plan - a plan which has since been abandoned by three of the ministers who helped pass it - it remains to be seen whether the "continuity" that Raab represents will be enough to stave off a challenge from hardline MPs who could be looking to unseat May.