Dominic Raab finds ignorance is bliss as Labour struggle to land a blow
Dominic Raab filled in at Prime Minister’s Questions this week and expectations were not high.
The man with almost as many jobs as former chancellor George Osborne is not known for his rapier wit, has a tendency to make gaffes and was facing off against the ferocious Angela Rayner.
Labour’s deputy leader has tended to wipe the floor with Tory politicians, balancing Jeremy Corbyn’s anger with being actually intelligent.
What’s more, Mr Raab has very little to work with, not least with his prep team unlikely to ever write something as funny as him saying “the sea was closed”.
But, somehow, despite the Prime Minister literally having gone to visit a scandal-hit Saudi Arabia, the former lawyer still came out on top.
That is not to say there weren’t slip-ups. Labour’s Matt Western warranted laughs asking “what first attracted the Prime Minister to the billionaire Russian oligarchs?”.
Mr Raab replied the “Prime Minister is not just a very social individual”, in a quip that married neatly, if perhaps unintentionally, with the ‘partygate’ allegations.
But that was the only hiccup. Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael thought he'd got the upper hand, saying it would have been better for the Prime Minister to be in Britain talking to British energy suppliers, only to be dismissed with a grin by Mr Raab.
He pointed out the Prime Minister was closing down a £1 billion deal, creating jobs, and had already spoken to British energy companies that week.
Sure the delivery wasn’t impressive, but doesn’t it seem a strong riposte written down.
For Ms Rayner, it was a PMQs to forget, despite her repeated attempts to press Mr Raab over Lord Lebedev’s elevation to the Upper House despite security concerns.
The question is valid, but Mr Raab can dismiss it as "nonsense" with the confidence of a man who hadn't seen the intelligence report, and even if he had, he couldn't possibly comment.
So often at PMQs the Prime Minister struggles because he doesn’t answer the question and just repeats generic claims about Labour.
Mr Raab did his homework and didn’t say anything he has to apologise for, which by current standards is a rare victory for the UK Government.
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