Dominic Raab to stand down as MP in next election after resigning over bullying scandal

Simon Jupp’s political master to stand down at the election. 

Simon was a SpAd (special adviser) to Dominic Raab (reporting to Dominic Cummings as well) for six months before being selected as the Conservative candidate for East Devon in 2019.

Time to remove this from his CV? – Owl

The Surrey constituency, which Mr Raab won by just 2,743 votes at the 2019 election, is a key target for the Liberal Democrats at the next national poll.

Sophie Wingate

Dominic Raab, who resigned from Cabinet last month after a bullying inquiry, will stand down as an MP at the next general election.

The former deputy prime minister and justice secretary confirmed his exit plans to the PA news agency on Monday night.

He quit Rishi Sunak’s Cabinet last month over bullying allegations from civil servants.

An independent investigation by Adam Tolley KC found he had acted in an intimidating and aggressive way with officials in behaviour that could have amounted to bullying.

Mr Raab will not contest his Esher and Walton seat, which he has held since 2010, at the next election, due by January 2025.

The Surrey constituency, which Mr Raab won by just 2,743 votes at the 2019 election, is a key target for the Liberal Democrats at the next national poll.

He joins a slew of senior Tories, including former chancellor Sajid Javid and ex-environment secretary George Eustice, announcing their exit plans amid a polling slump.

Former health secretary Matt Hancock, who was a Conservative until he lost the whip over his I’m A Celebrity appearance, and Dehenna Davison, seen as a rising star in the Tory party, are also among around 30 Tories to be quitting the Commons.

In a letter to the chairman of his local Conservative Association, seen by the Telegraph, Mr Raab reportedly cited concerns about the pressure on his family as being behind his decision.

“I have become increasingly concerned over the last few years about the pressure the job has placed on my young family,” he wrote in the letter dated May 19, according to the newspaper.

“I will continue to carry out all my responsibilities to my constituents, and provide every support in campaigning, so that we win here next year – which I am confident we can do under this Prime Minister’s leadership.”

Mr Raab was sent to the backbenches after Mr Tolley’s report concluded he had engaged in an “abuse or misuse of power” that “undermines or humiliates” while he was foreign secretary. He was also found to have been intimidating to staff by criticising “utterly useless” and “woeful” work while justice secretary.

The senior lawyer led a five-month investigation into eight formal complaints about Mr Raab’s conduct as Brexit secretary and foreign secretary, and in his previous tenure leading the Ministry of Justice.

Though he stopped short of describing the conduct as bullying, Mr Tolley’s findings were consistent with what he said would amount to the offence under the ministerial code.

Mr Raab stayed true to his pledge to step down from Cabinet if any bullying claim was upheld.

But the karate black belt went down fighting, criticising the “Kafkaesque saga” and alleging the inquiry had “set a dangerous precedent” by setting a “low” threshold for bullying.

The 49-year-old said he had been warned that “unionised officials” were targeting him, in a widely-criticised tirade that raised concerns about a breakdown of trust between ministers and civil servants.

His departure spells the end of a colourful political career which left him no stranger to controversy, as well as his ambitions of one day taking over in No 10.

Mr Raab, who made an unsuccessful run to replace Theresa May as Tory leader in 2019, was demoted from foreign secretary after accusations of being “missing in action” by being on holiday in Crete during the 2021 Afghanistan evacuation.

Planning applications validated by EDDC for week beginning 8 May

England’s water companies: a badly broken system 

“There are two main options for improving England’s spectacularly broken system: empower regulators to restrict financial engineering and prevent companies that load firms with debt from entering this market, or nationalise the water supply. The government seems unwilling to do either.”

Guardian Editorial 

The revelation should anger all who care about England’s rivers and beaches. Two decades ago, ministers were warned about private equity firms buying up water companies. In a briefing prepared for Britain’s competition regulator prior to the takeover of Southern Water, researchers raised the alarm that private equity-owned water companies would become “impossible” to regulate. Despite the 20-year transparency rule, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has not released the briefing. Its existence was uncovered by this newspaper. Though its full contents remain secret, its implications are clear: ministers were alerted to the devastating impact that this industry could have on England’s water supply, but they chose not to act.

Since then, a tide of effluent has polluted England’s rivers. Following the privatisation of water companies in 1989, owners have enriched themselves while neglecting infrastructure and dumping vast quantities of untreated sewage. As investors have loaded water companies with debt, they have continued to pay dividends to their shareholders, which totalled £1.4bn last year. The public, meanwhile, have shouldered the costs. Water bills have risen. Last week, the industry apologised for these sewage spills and pledged to invest £10bn in infrastructure – to be paid for by increases in customer bills. Ruth Kelly, the former Labour cabinet minister who is head of the industry’s trade body, Water UK, said more should have been done to address the spillages. She was silent on the subject of dividend payments.

The main line of defence for consumers is supposed to be Ofwat. Yet water companies have run rings around the regulator. Its rules are premised on a version of capitalism that no longer exists. When it was founded in 1989, England’s water suppliers were listed on the stock market, allowing anybody to buy shares in this public resource. Today, most of them have been bought up by investment funds that do not face the same disclosure requirements. Opacity has shielded their finances from scrutiny. Since 2015, water companies have been required to demonstrate their “financial resilience”, and Ofwat will now prevent negligent ones from paying out dividends. But the horse has already bolted, and many of the firms responsible for loading these companies with debt have already moved on.

The regulation of England’s water suppliers is grounded in the illusion that it is possible to promote competition in a marketplace of natural monopolies. A narrow focus on competition and prices has led Ofwat to largely ignore other crucial issues such as the environment and the cost to taxpayers, and to overlook the risks posed by financial engineering. In 2007, for example, it credulously took the view that firms’ capital structures (and by implication their dividend payments) “are essentially a matter for companies and the markets”. Meanwhile, the CMA, which has been urged to do more to prevent private equity buyouts, has no remit to investigate these issues. Neither regulator was designed with this industry in mind, and both now find themselves outmanoeuvred by its tricks.

Solving these problems requires change from the top. There are two main options for improving England’s spectacularly broken system: empower regulators to restrict financial engineering and prevent companies that load firms with debt from entering this market, or nationalise the water supply. The government seems unwilling to do either.

Devon gets millions of pounds to help new cycling projects

Walking and cycling schemes across Devon have received millions of pounds of cash to help them come to life. A number of priority active travel projects in Exeter, Newton Abbot, North Devon and Torridge will be supported with the funding to enable and encourage more people to walk and cycle.

Daniel Clark 

Devon County Council is receiving just over £2 million of active travel funding from the Department for Transport. Plymouth City Council has been granted £2.5 million and Torbay £250,000.

In Exeter, £200,000 will go towards road layout enhancements in Queen Street and Iron Bridge which recently got underway. This scheme will ensure that the changes introduced during the pandemic to provide more space and improve safety for walkers and cyclists are made permanent.

Around £400,000 of funding will be used to upgrade walking and cycling links in Wonford, Exeter. This will include the construction of a bi-directional cycleway and pedestrian/cycle crossings on Rifford Road, which will form part of the E12 North-South strategic cycle route.

Work will also be carried out to design schemes to improve connections between the proposed Rifford Road cycleway and existing walking and cycling facilities.

Over £900,000 will help complete a section of the Tarka Trail between Ilfracombe and Braunton, delivering a key missing link of the trail near Willingcott Valley Holiday Village and on Nethercott Road, as well as enabling design development for other sections.

A zebra crossing will be constructed on Richmond Road in Appledore, near the Kingsley Avenue junction. This will support children, parents and staff walking to Appledore Primary School, as well as people visiting Anchor Park.

Cllr Stuart Hughes, Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “This is very welcome funding towards the development and construction of a number of important active travel schemes. All of these schemes will provide benefits for health and wellbeing, as well as helping people to access education, employment and leisure facilities. We want to enable and encourage more people in Devon to walk and cycle, while also creating more attractive environments in town and city centres.”

In Torbay, the grant will deliver a new crossing at Shiphay Lane as part of a hospital trail, but the council has expressed its disappointment that other schemes it applied for – a ramp to improve access at Rainbow Drive and funds for developing further designs for the wider network – have not been awarded funding.

Cllr David Thomas, the new Conservative leader of the council, said: “We are delighted that Torbay has been successful in applying for a share of national funding from the government’s latest tranche of the active travel fund and this means that work can start on delivering safer roads for all users in that area, and provide the connection across Shiphay Lane to make walking, cycling and wheeling a real choice for residents in the area.

“However, we know from consultation with the local community that we also need a ramp and other accessibility improvements. We are disappointed not to have been given the funding and officers will meet with government to discuss other opportunities. Ultimately, we want the Hospital Trail delivered in full.”

Funding has also been awarded towards the controversial plans for Queen Street in Newton Abbot to undergo improvements to support walking and cycling. This scheme will include footway widening, improved crossing facilities and greening and seating to improve the local environment.

Changes are also proposed to parking and vehicular access arrangements, to facilitate the improvements and reduce traffic noise and pollution, with £500,000 of funding awarded to complement Future High Streets funding.

But last year, two thirds of businesses in Newton Abbot’s main shopping street came out against plans for pedestrianisation. Only public transport vehicles, disabled drivers and delivery lorries getting access to a restricted loading bay would be allowed through into Queen Street if the scheme goes ahead.

Officers at County Hall, working with counterparts at Teignbridge District Council, said widening pavements and reducing on-street parking by 55 per cent would create “a package of pedestrian and public realm enhancements”. The work would be supported by the Government’s Future High Streets Fund, designed to enable economic recovery.

But the plans have proven controversial and unpopular in some quarters. Newton Abbot Town Council is resisting plans that would reduce parking and banish most traffic from Queen Street, saying it is worried about the impact on shops and businesses. Councillors from the South Devon Alliance have provided a survey that shows the scale of opposition to the proposals. They attempted to speak to all 66 businesses that operate in and around Queen Street to get their views on the plans.

Of them, 43 openly stated they were against the proposals. Only six were in favour of the scheme, with seven undecided at this stage. A further ten had no-one who wished to comment or were closed when the surveys were carried out.

The Newton Abbot scheme will be subject to approval by councillors. The next meeting of the Teignbridge Highways and Traffic Orders Committee which will determine the fate of the plans is scheduled for Thursday, June 1 – although the agenda will not come out until later this week.

This latest grant from the Active Travel Fund is in addition to the £580,000 secured from the Active Travel Capability Fund 2022/23, and follows previous successful bids for nearly £3 million from earlier rounds of the Active Travel Fund.