London, April 21 (BNA): British Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab resigned from the government on Friday following an independent investigation into complaints that he bullied colleagues in the latest scandal over the dismissal of one of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s senior ministers.
The loss of a senior third minister over their personal behavior in the past six months would hurt Sunak’s efforts to revive the fortunes of the ruling Conservative Party, a major embarrassment because he entered Downing Street in October promising a integrity government.
Raab resigned in a letter to the prime minister before the report was published, and his departure is a setback for Sunak just two weeks before the English local council elections where the Conservatives are expected to do poorly.
“I have called for an investigation and have vowed to resign if I ever find out about the bullying,” Rap said. “I think it’s important to keep my word.”
In his reply letter, Sunak said he accepted Raab’s resignation with deep sadness but said it was important that ministers hold themselves to the highest standards.
As Deputy Prime Minister, Raab did not have any formal powers, but he did assume the office of Prime Minister if he was away from Parliament or incapacitated. However, he has been a close political ally of Sunak and helped launch his campaign for prime minister last summer.
Resigning will do little to improve public perception of his government in the wake of Boris Johnson’s tenure riddled with scandal and chaotic economic policies that unseated Blaise Truss less than two months later.
The five-month investigation into Rapp’s conduct heard evidence from multiple government officials about complaints of bullying in three different departments.
The independent report by attorney Adam Tolley found that Raab behaved in an “intimidating” and “consistently aggressive” manner while at the Foreign Office.
While at the Department of Justice, she said, he “went further than was necessary or appropriate in making critical as well as insulting remarks, in the sense of making non-constructive critical comments about the quality of work done.”
“(Rapp) has been able to orchestrate this level of ‘scraping’ since the investigation was made public,” Tolley wrote. “He should have changed his approach earlier.”
Raab requested the investigation in November after formal complaints about his behavior by government officials. He said he felt an “obligation” to accept the outcome of the investigation but vigorously defended his conduct.
He said the report concluded that he had not sworn, yelled at, or physically intimidated anyone in four and a half years, and dismissed all but two of the allegations against him.
Raab apologized for any unintended distress or offense caused, but said the decision to set a very low bar for bullying “set a dangerous precedent” for good government behaviour.
In his letter, he said this “will have a chilling effect on those who are driving change on behalf of your government – and ultimately the British people”.
Raab referred to the two incidents in which bullying was discovered against him – one at the Foreign Office in dealing with a senior diplomat’s handling of the Brexit negotiations over Gibraltar, and another in which he had made critical remarks during a previous stint in the ministry. Justice from 2021 to 2022.
Opposition Labor leader Keir Starmer accused Sunak of “weakness” for failing to sack his deputy rather than letting him resign.
One of Sunak’s senior ministers, Gavin Williamson, also resigned in November following allegations of bullying, and the prime minister sacked Conservative Party chairman Nadeem Zahawi in January after it was found he had breached ministerial law over his openness about his tax affairs.
Sunak faces his own investigation by Parliament’s Standards Controller into his conduct over whether he had correctly declared his wife’s shareholding in a childcare company that would benefit from the new government policy.