Half-Czech takes over the British government after Boris Johnson hospitalized with coronavirus

The United Kingdom has, at least temporarily, a new acting prime minister with Czech roots.

Boris Johnson has been in the intensive care unit of St. Thomas Hospital since Sunday evening due to his coronavirus infection, where he has received oxygen treatment and remains in stable condition.

Johnson asked Foreign Minister Dominic Raab to deputize for the prime minister where necessary. In the past, Dominic Raab also served as Minister for Brexit. He is a son of a Czech Jew who fled with his family from Nazi persecution. In the past, he himself said that he feels to be “half Czech“.

Dominic Raab’s Czech roots

Dominic Raab was born on February 25, 1974, in Buckinghamshire. He grew up in Gerrards Cross and studied law at Oxford, and later at Cambridge University.

In the late 1990s, he worked for the main Palestinian negotiator involved with concluding peace agreements between Israel and the Palestinians in Oslo. After 2000, Raab was head of a team at the British Embassy in The Hague, trying to bring war criminals to justice. After returning to London, he worked as an advisor for the Israeli-Arab conflict, for the European Union and for Gibraltar.

According to The Times, many of Raab’s relatives died during the Holocaust. His father came to the UK in 1938 at the age of six and could not speak any English. Eventually, he graduated from high school and started working as a manager at Marks & Spencer.

Commenting on his Czech origins, Raab said that while growing up, he would often listen to his parents talk about the unfortunate consequences of the Nazi and then Soviet rule over Czechoslovakia.

Raab’s Cabinet roles

The 46-year-old Raab first appeared in the British government in July 2018, when he replaced David Davis as Secretary of State for Brexit. He only remained in the office until November of the same year when he resigned, criticizing former Prime Minister Theresa May’s position on Brexit. He was an influential voice in increasing opposition to May’s withdrawal agreement with the EU.

After May announced she was standing down, Raab entered the contest to become the leader of Conservative Party, and thus a potential prime minister. However, he was defeated by Johnson and Michael Gove.

He then returned to the government shortly after Johnson was elected as the Conservative Party’s leader. Johnson entrusted him with the post of foreign secretary and first Secretary of State.

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