Dominic Raab, an ardent Brexiteer, was criticised for controversial comments he made while a Conservative backbencher, including a description as some feminists as ‘obnoxious bigots’.
The former civil servant and adviser is replacing David Davis as the UK’s chief negotiator on Brexit after his predecessor resigned in protest at the Government position laid out by Theresa May on Friday.
Mr Raab, the MP for Esher and Walton, was considered a shoo-in for almost immediate high office when he won the safe seat for the first time in 2010.
His 2011 comments on feminism, however, earned him a swift rebuke from then-Home Secretary Theresa May, who said his comment on an ‘equality bandwagon’ was “not the way forward to get away from gender warfare.”
He had claimed that men were the real victims of sexism in the piece for website Politics Home.
In 2012, Mr Raab joined other Tory rising stars in putting his name to a manifesto called Britannia Unchained, which raised eyebrows by branding the British “among the worst idlers in the world”.
In 2017, he was branded “offensive” by then Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron after telling a radio interviewer that “the typical user of a food bank is not someone that’s languishing in poverty, it’s someone who has a cash flow problem”.
SNP MSP Linda Fabiani said: “Just when it seemed the Tories’ hard Brexit couldn’t get any worse, they’ve decided to appoint one of the most hard-right, toxic voices in their party as the lead negotiator.
“Dominic Raab’s comments on women’s rights and worker’s rights, on foodbanks and on immigration are utterly disgraceful – not to mention his connection to voices calling for an end to all council housing, or his fierce advocacy of welfare cuts and policies such as the two child cap and rape clause.
“This Tory government, already the most right-wing in living memory, has lurched even further to the right with this appointment – it’s Thatcherism on steroids.”
The Labour Party’s LGBT campaigning group tweeted: “As Dominic Raab is appointed as Brexit Secretary let’s not forget that this is a man who attempted to repeal the Human Rights Act and argued that feminism was bigotry.
This Tory government cannot and must not be trusted with our rights after Brexit.”