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7 April 2020

What Dominic Raab can and can’t do as Boris Johnson’s stand-in

The Foreign Secretary is deputising for the Prime Minister but cannot exercise all of his powers.

By Patrick Maguire

Dominic Raab, the Foreign Secretary, is deputising for Boris Johnson while the Prime Minister is in intensive care. What powers is he entitled to exercise?

The United Kingdom does not have a formal line of prime ministerial succession. While Raab is notionally Johnson’s deputy as First Secretary of State, he is not acting prime minister.

Instead, Johnson has delegated several of the functions of his office to Raab – who will work as usual from the Foreign Office, rather than 10 Downing Street for the duration of his time in intensive care.

Together with his colleagues the cabinet, Raab does have the authority to respond with force to an attack on the UK.

He does not, however, have the power to hire or dismiss other ministers. Nor will he hold a weekly audience with the Queen, as prime ministers do every Wednesday.

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Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, will succeed Raab in deputising for Johnson if the Foreign Secretary is himself incapacitated.