British Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab resigned from the government on Friday after an independent report found he had bullied officials, the latest scandal to force out one of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s top ministers.
The loss of a third senior minister over their personal conduct in six months will damage Sunak’s bid to revive his Conservative Party’s fortunes before local elections in May, and is an embarrassment as Sunak promised a government of integrity when he entered Downing Street in October.
Raab released an angry resignation letter arguing that the findings of the report, which said he had acted in a way that was “intimidating” and “persistently aggressive” while he was foreign minister, were flawed.
But he went through with his promise to quit if any bullying allegations were upheld.
“I called for the inquiry and undertook to resign if it made any finding of bullying whatsoever,” Raab said. “I believe it is important to keep my word.”
Raab had no formal powers as Sunak’s deputy but stepped in for the prime minister if he was away from parliament or incapacitated. He was a close political ally of Sunak and helped launch his campaign to be prime minister last summer.
The bullying findings undermine Sunak’s attempts to present his government as a clean break from the scandal-ridden premiership of Boris Johnson and from the chaotic economic policies that brought down Liz Truss after less than two months.
Sunak said he accepted Raab’s resignation with great sadness and acknowledged his concerns about how initial allegations about his behaviour had been handled.
The five-month investigation by lawyer Adam Tolley into Raab’s behaviour heard evidence from government officials about complaints of bullying at three different departments.