A close reading of the Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab’s resignation letter

“I resign over not doing my job.”

Sign Up

Get the New Statesman\'s Morning Call email.

After five months in the job, Dominic Raab has resigned as Brexit Secretary. It turns out he’s not happy with a Brexit deal he never would have been happy with – not when he took on the role, not when he joined parliament in 2010, and not when he co-authored a book called Britannia Unchained in 2012 with fellow right-wing MPs calling for a low-regulation, low-tax Britain.

Still, though. He thought he’d give it a try. Presumably because he wanted to influence the negotiations and therefore the outcome. It seems he failed at this one job – and is now resigning over his failure while blaming everyone but himself.

Here’s the letter:


Here’s what it really says:

“It has been an honour to serve in your government as Justice Minister, Housing Minister and Brexit Secretary.”

Thank you for promoting me to your government that’s set against “burning injustices”, despite that I’ve called feminists “the most obnoxious bigots”, criticised the “equality bandwagon”, advertised for an unpaid internship, and called “positive discrimination” the same as “negative discrimination”. It sounds like I wasn’t very qualified for your social justice mission, so thanks for giving me a shot.

“I regret to say that, following the Cabinet meeting yesterday on the Brexit deal, I must resign.”

This deal that was my job to strike is not satisfactory to me. Somehow this has also come as a surprise to me.

“I understand why you have chosen to pursue the deal with the EU on the terms proposed, and I respect the different views held in good faith by all of our colleagues.”

I blame everyone but myself for negotiating what is basically the only deal possible.

“I believe that the regulatory regime proposed for Northern Ireland presents a very real threat to the integrity of the United Kingdom.”

Whereas no deal would be absolutely fine for the future of the union.

“I cannot support an indefinite backstop arrangement, where the EU holds a veto over our ability to exit.”

We should be able to unilaterally kibosh the back-up plan for protecting “the integrity of the United Kingdom” that I hold so precious. Take back control!

“No democratic nation has ever signed up to be bound by such an extensive regime, imposed externally without any democratic control over the laws to be applied, nor the ability to decide to exit the arrangement.”

No democratic nation has shot itself so severely in the foot, spurred on by extreme ideologues like me that think economic armageddon in exchange for no external input is somehow a preferable outcome.

“Above all, I cannot reconcile the terms of the proposed deal with the promises we made to the country in our manifesto at the last election. This is, at its heart, a matter of public trust.”

And you could learn a thing or two from leading Brexiteers like me about campaign promises and public trust.

“Ultimately, you deserve a Brexit Secretary who can make the case for the deal you are pursuing with conviction. I am only sorry, in good conscience, that I cannot.”

Sod this, I want to be back on the backbenchers with the naughty boys with no expectation to come up with a plan of my own.

Anoosh Chakelian is the New Statesman’s Britain editor.

Free trial CSS