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In another blow to Sunak govt., UK deputy PM resigns after bullying probe

Dominic Raab resigned as deputy PM. (Photo by EPA-EFE)

British deputy prime minister Dominic Raab has tendered his resignation following an independent investigation into complaints that he bullied colleagues, dealing another heavy blow to Rishi Sunak's embattled government. 

Raab was accused of bullying several current and former members of Whitehall staff while acting as foreign secretary, Brexit secretary and justice secretary. 

In his resignation letter addressed to Prime Minister Sunak on Friday, Raab said he decided to resign as deputy prime minister and justice secretary after an official inquiry found complaints of bullying against him were justified.

He, however, argued that the inquiry had “set a dangerous precedent” by “setting the threshold for bullying so low.”

“Whilst I feel duty bound to accept the outcome of the inquiry, it dismissed all but two of the claims leveled against me. I also believe that its two adverse findings are flawed and set a dangerous precedent for the conduct of good government,” Raab wrote in his resignation letter.

He served as foreign secretary in Boris Johnson's government but was sacked after drawing flak following the UK withdrawal from Afghanistan. 

Being a close political ally of Sunak, Raab’s resignation would be the third exit of a senior minister in Sunak’s cabinet in the last six months, and would severely damage Sunak’s efforts to revive the governing Conservative Party's fortunes, experts opine.

Senior officials in the British justice ministry were said to be preparing to quit if the PM chose to keep Raab because it would be “demoralizing” for staff.

“If he stays in the department, senior people will want to walk,” one official told The Guardian. Another said some would get ready to “leave in the near future”.

In November, another senior minister, Gavin Williamson, was forced to resign over similar allegations of bullying.

In response to Rabb, Sunak praised his service in government and refused to comment on the report’s findings.

He said Raab had “kept his word,” but that there had been “shortcomings in the historic process that have negatively affected everyone involved. We should learn from this how to better handle such matters in the future.”

The opposition Labour Party, however, lashed out at the British prime minister for "proving himself too weak".

“Rather than showing leadership, the prime minister has proven himself too weak to give Dominic Raab his marching orders. He’s failed to root out bullying from his own Cabinet and he’s failing to deliver the integrity he promised," said deputy leader Angela Rayner said in a statement.

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