HE is the stand-in Prime Minister but few will know anything about the man now heading the UK Government while Boris Johnson is incapacitated in hospital.

The rise of 46-year-old Dominic Rennie Raab has been nothing short of meteoric. After a cumulative 12 months in Cabinet, he now finds himself in a leading role, chairing its Covid-19 briefings. 

But it seems his leading role will be constrained with an emphasis on collective  Cabinet responsibility; he will not, for example, be able to hire and fire like the PM can. No 10 said he would stand in for Mr Johnson “where appropriate”.

Born and raised in the Buckinghamshire stockbroker belt, Mr Raab is the son of a Jewish refugee, who fled Czechoslovakia in 1938 following the Munich Agreement, which led to parts of the country being run by Nazi Germany.

After attending a local grammar school, he took law degrees at Oxford and Cambridge and went into private practice but by 2000 he had joined the Foreign Office, covering a range of briefs, including bringing war criminals to justice.

From 2006, he worked for fellow Eurosceptic David Davis, the then Shadow Home Secretary, and at the 2010 General Election took the safe Surrey commuter seat of Esher and Walton with a comfortable 18,593 majority but he spent the Coalition years on the backbenches.

It was only after David Cameron’s 2015 election victory that Mr Raab, a father-of-two, began his ascent up the ministerial ladder becoming the Minister for Civil Liberties. Although he lost his Government job when Theresa May took over following Mr Cameron’s resignation in wake of the EU referendum – he had been Michael Gove’s campaign chief - the Surrey MP was back in Government a year later as Justice Minister and then Housing Minister.

A key factor in his subsequent rise was that he was on the winning side in the EU referendum. Like Boris Johnson and Mr Gove, he was a true believer in breaking away from what he regarded as a wasteful and corrupt Union.

He once said: "We'll be better off if we're freed up to trade more energetically with the growth markets like Latin America and Asia. It will be good for job creation and also cut prices in the stores."

The rising star had clearly impressed Mrs May and when his former boss, Mr Davis, resigned as Brexit Secretary over the Prime Minister’s withdrawal strategy, Mr Raab took over. But within six months he too had become disillusioned and resigned.

EU sources nicknamed him "the Turnip," an apparent a play on raap, the Dutch word for the vegetable; the suggestion being Mr Raab’s Brussels counterparts were unhappy with his negotiation strategy.

Often portrayed as a hard man – he is a karate black belt – the ex-Cabinet Minister threw his hat in the ring when Mrs May was eventually forced out but was eliminated in the second round, coming sixth. However, he threw his weight behind the frontrunner and subsequent winner: Mr Johnson.

To the surprise of many, the new PM elevated Mr Raab to the glamour role of Foreign Secretary, succeeding his rival for the Tory crown Jeremy Hunt; and more than that, he made him First Secretary of State, effectively his deputy.

Having aspired to lead the Government following Mrs May’s departure from No 10, the failed candidate suddenly finds that “events” have determined to put him in the lead role albeit for an unknown period.