Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister Quits for Being a Bully newsusface

After the endless scandals of Boris Johnson’s premiership and the blink-and-you-might-miss-it farce of Liz Truss’ time in Downing Street, Rishi Sunak promised in October that his new administration running the United Kingdom would be different. “This government will have integrity, professionalism, and accountability at every level,” Sunak said. Less than six months later, three of his cabinet ministers have left office in scandal.

On Friday, Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Minister Dominic Raab became the latest to go following the conclusion of an inquiry into accusations of bullying made against him by civil servants. In a mealy-mouthed sorry-not-sorry resignation letter, Raab said he felt “duty bound to accept the outcome of the inquiry” but said the investigation has “set a dangerous precedent.”

Raab said the inquiry had “dismissed all but two of the claims” leveled against him and found he “had not once, in four and a half years, sworn or shouted at anyone, let alone thrown anything or otherwise physically intimidated anyone, nor intentionally sought to belittle anyone.”

“I am genuinely sorry for any unintended stress or [offense] that any officials felt, as a result of the pace, standards and challenge that I brought to the Ministry of Justice,” Raab wrote.

Raab signed off the letter by arguing that “setting the threshold for bullying so low” could have a negative impact on British politicians down the line. “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,” he wrote.

Keir Starmer, the leader of the opposition, derided Raab’s foot-stamping non-apology. “I don’t know why Dominic Raab—in the middle of a cost of living crisis—thinks that anybody wants to hear his whining about having to resign,” he told the BBC.

The lawyer-led independent inquiry was conducted into claims of wrongdoing against Raab mostly stemming from his time in the Ministry of Justice. Raab, who has denied the allegations since the inquiry was launched in November, faced eight formal complaints about his conduct. The report has yet to be made publicly available but had been seen by both Raab and Sunak before Raab’s resignation.

Allies of the hard-line Brexiteer had remained bullish about the report even on the eve of its findings, with some telling The Times that they believed Raab would survive the allegations they described as a “witch hunt.”

Supporters also speculated that Sunak, who was accused of delaying making a decision about Raab’s future on Thursday, might have been playing for time in order to find a way of keeping Raab in office. “Given that I and most of my colleagues—and the prime minister—have never known Dom do anything deliberately sinister to someone, we can’t see that the prime minister taking more time to decide is a bad thing,” one Raab ally said.

The quote disappeared from the online version of the story on Friday as people on Twitter made fun of Raab’s defenders for apparently suggesting he was sinister—but not deliberately so.

Raab has been one of Sunak’s closest allies and has served in several top roles across multiple Conservative Party administrations. The karate black-belt former-lawyer first became a junior minister under David Cameron in 2015 and went on to play a central role supporting the campaign for Britain’s exit from the European Union a year later.

He later served as the U.K.’s Brexit Minister under Theresa May and ran for party leader following her resignation in 2019. Boris Johnson ultimately won and made Raab his Foreign Secretary—an endorsement which Raab repaid by not resigning as Johnson’s administration rapidly unraveled last year. Raab backed Sunak in the ensuing leadership contest won by Truss—who in turn kept Raab out of government—which Sunak thanked him for by making him Deputy PM and Justice Minister when Sunak took power in October.

Raab’s resignation is just the latest scandal-soaked departure from Sunak’s cabinet. In January, Tory Party Chairman Nadhim Zahawi was sacked after an investigation found he’d breached Britain’s ministerial code by failing to disclose that he was being probed by the U.K.’s tax body over his financial affairs. Zahawi’s dismissal followed the November resignation of Sunak’s Cabinet Office minister, Gavin Williamson, over his own allegations of bullying, including one from a civil servant who said Williamson told them to “slit your throat.”

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