If Liz Truss is named prime minister next week, her administration will look rather different to the government of the past few years. Rishi Sunak has suggested he won’t accept any job offer. Michael Gove, a Sunak supporter, has pre-emptively ruled himself out. Other prominent backers are expected to join the pair on the backbenches – such as the Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Secretary, Dominic Raab.
Truss’s allies say he deserves what’s coming his way for having likened her economic plans of immediate tax cuts to an ‘electoral suicide note’. Yet for a man on political death row, Raab is remarkably cheery when we meet at The Spectator’s offices. ‘Those Jedi mind tricks don’t work on me,’ he says about the rumours of his demise. ‘I used to think that if someone briefs against you, it is just them who is rattled.’ And his quote, he adds, really wasn’t that bad in context.
Instead, he wants to focus on unity. He’s not yet given up on the idea that Sunak could win – there are ‘enough undecideds for it to still be worth champing at the bit’ – but whatever the outcome, he says he will support the government. Shouldn’t it be assumed he’d find it hard to serve a woman whose agenda he has so sharply criticised, though? ‘No, I wouldn’t assume that,’ he says. ‘I’ll focus on supporting Rishi and it’s all to play for, but I think the key thing for me is that it is a robust contest and then the party unites.’
The Conservatives do have a shared threat to unite against: the prospect of electoral annihilation. Raab’s seat, Esher and Walton, is among the top ten Liberal Democrat targets at the next general election.