LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 08: Justice minister Dominic Raab gives a speech at the 'Vote Leave' campaign headquarters in Westminster on June 8, 2016 in London, England. Mr Raab was today joined by Justice Secretary Michael Gove as they made a case for Britain leaving the European Union on the basis of increased border control and security. Britain will go to the polls in a referendum on the 23rd of June on whether or not to leave the European Union. (Photo by Jack Taylor/Getty Images)
Dominic Raab has a black belt in karate © Getty

The new Brexit secretary Dominic Raab is a leading Conservative Brexiter whose appointment is aimed at maintaining the delicate status quo between Eurosceptics and Europhiles in Theresa May’s cabinet.

He is a key ally of Michael Gove, the pro-Leave environment secretary, who is urging Tory MPs to back Mrs May’s soft-Brexit plan, which was endorsed by the cabinet on Friday but prompted the Eurosceptic David Davis to resign as Brexit secretary on Sunday.

One looming issue for Mr Raab, 44, is that he may find the job as frustrating as Mr Davis because key decisions on the UK’s plans to leave the EU are taken by Mrs May and Olly Robbins, her chief adviser on Brexit.

Penny Mordaunt, the pro-Brexit international development secretary, welcomed Mr Raab’s promotion to the cabinet.

“Very welcome appointment,” she tweeted. “Highly capable, across the issues, attention to detail, Leave supporter and pragmatist.”

Mr Raab, who is said to have ambitions to lead the Conservative party, is the son of a Czech-born Jewish father who came to Britain as a refugee just before the second world war.

After studying at Oxford and Cambridge universities, Mr Raab, who has a black belt in karate, worked for Linklaters, the leading law firm.

But in 2000 he joined the Foreign Office, and was later dispatched to The Hague where he led a team focused on bringing war criminals to justice.

He left the Foreign Office in 2006 and worked as chief of staff to David Davis when he was shadow home secretary and an established Eurosceptic. He then worked for Dominic Grieve, a Europhile Conservative MP, while he was shadow justice minister.

Mr Raab became MP for Esher and Walton in 2010, and quickly established himself as a rising star by speaking up for civil liberties. He also gained attention for his Eurosceptic views, partly by questioning the EU’s free movement of people arrangements.

After the 2015 general election the then prime minister David Cameron gave Mr Raab his first ministerial job. He became justice minister, but one year later he suffered a major setback after failing to secure a job in Mrs May’s government when she succeeded Mr Cameron following the Brexit referendum.

Back in 2011 when she was home secretary, Mrs May had rebuked Mr Raab after he labelled feminists “obnoxious bigots” in a website article.

Mrs May, speaking in a Commons debate about employment legislation and gender discrimination, was asked by Mr Raab about the case for making maternity leave transferable to eliminate “anti-male discrimination” in the workplace.

She replied: “We should try to get away from gender warfare and the politics of difference . . . but I suggest . . . that labelling feminists as ‘obnoxious bigots’ is not the way forward.”

Mrs May resurrected Mr Raab’s political career after last year’s election by handing him his old job of justice minister.

She then underlined her confidence in him in January by appointing him to the politically important job of housing minister.

Housing was a big issue in last year’s election, when the Tories lost their Commons majority, because years of rising prices have put buying a property beyond the reach of many young people.

Mrs May has prioritised measures to try to fix the housing crisis, although Labour has claimed her proposals are too timid.

Mr Raab is married with two children.

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