SO farewell then Dominic Raab, the man with the scary, unsmiling eyes. The man who fell on his sword thus saving his mentor, the PM, from having to pull the rug out from under the man who seems to have managed to antagonise three separate departments.

The man who – scary thought – might have inherited the top job himself had ­Boris Johnson become a Covid victim.

Because, astonishingly, two different prime ministers have seen fit to make him their deputy, which we might charitably call a failure of judgement. Or maybe they got bullied into making the appointment? There was a persistent rumour that he only got elbowed out as foreign secretary if he was allowed to keep his deputy’s badge.

The Raab resignation letter was ­something of a collector’s item. I’m not sure it’s the best-ever character ­reference to say that you haven’t shouted, sworn or thrown anything at colleagues. Hello?

According to Dom, the threshold for ­bullying was set far too low. Rather more interesting with this crew is the threshold for competence.

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You may just recall that during the ­disastrous exit from Afghanistan, Raab, the great survivor, was on a very expensive holiday in Cyprus and was in absolutely no hurry to get back to base at the Foreign ­Office which was, in theory, in charge of the operation.

Worrying too is the pattern which is emerging of ministerial style during this Conservative era. Priti Patel, before ­being overtaken by Suella Braverman as the ­government’s chosen Queen of the Night, was also found to have thrown an ­unacceptable amount of weight around in various government incarnations. Rather like Mr Raab, the accusations spanned three different departments.

In fact, the report on her behaviour said quite clearly that her demeanour in office had contravened the ministerial code. This should occasion an immediate removal from office, but the lovely Boris kept her in a job.

Ironically, the only resignation came from Sir Alex Allan, the then standards adviser, who obviously thought, sod this for a game of soldiers, when his carefully ­compiled evidence was binned.

And Patel’s erstwhile permanent ­secretary Sir Philip Rutnam also threw in the towel complaining about the manner in which he and his staff had been treated.

The job of commissioner for parliamentary standards is not for the faint-hearted. The current one only started in January and his predecessor, Kathryn Stone, was given a torrid time when she investigated claims of inappropriate lobbying by Owen Paterson and, later, the Prime ­Minister’s somewhat unique arrangements for ­family holidays.

Listening to all the talking heads on TV in the wake of this latest departure from the UK Cabinet, you longed for someone to take on the role of inquisitor who would not be hogtied by the perceived need for total impartiality. Sometimes you see people almost visibly wrestling with themselves as they formulate an ­awfully careful question.

The best interviewers devise their own style which can elicit the most ­devastating and surprising ­information. The wily ­Eddie Mair, who migrated to LBC from the BBC, was a master of ­jollying his ­interviewee along so well that they were astonished to find themselves ­subsequently bleeding from a cunningly inserted knife wound.

There is also the technique used by some top broadcasters on the electronic media of recognising their interviewee may not be scared of much, but they can’t really cope with silence. So if their ­interlocutor stops asking anything, the poor sowel feels obliged to rush into the empty air space, often with information which hadn’t actually been solicited. Cunning. Effective.

The National: Sir David Frost

One of the early maestros in that game was Sir David Paradine Frost, king of the TV airwaves on both sides of the ­Atlantic. Sadly he shed this mortal coil 10 years back, but you would have paid seriously good money to watch Sir David Frost make televised mincemeat of the mouthy peer who bears the same moniker.

After all, the TV Frost was a veteran of interviews with serious politicians, not a johnny-come-lately special adviser to chancers like Boris.

The TV Frost had cut his teeth on ­interviewing no fewer than eight prime ministers, from Douglas-Home to ­Cameron, and eight US presidents, from Johnson to Obama.

His encounters with “tricky Dicky” Nixon became the stuff of TV legend and spawned a play and a film thereafter.

So the Lord Frost now taking unsteady aim at the devolved administrations, ­following strenuous efforts to ensure no European government would ever trust the UK again, plus his success in making UKPLC a global joke, would have been chewed up and the remains spat out by the other Mr Frost.

Were the real Frost still able to be let loose on the fake one, his researchers would have had very little trouble ­locating some attractive lines of inquiry. There was the period Lord F spent as CEO of the Scottish Whisky Association where he assured anyone who would ­listen that being in the EU was worth about £1500 per annum to anyone on an ­average UK salary.

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You don’t say, your Lordship. Do go on.

And he did, of course, write for ­Portland Communications that leaving the single market “would be fraught with economic risk”.


It was some time after this that he ­morphed into Mr Brexit, first as the chief negotiator for the Department for Exiting the European Union and latterly in the same role during the transition period while the trade guidelines were ­hammered out.

The period when Boris Johnson had a jolly with the Northern Ireland ­politicians insisting there was no such thing as a ­border in the Irish Sea, that there would be no increased bureaucracy of any sort, and if they got irritating forms to fill in, they should just stick them in the bin, or send them to BJ where, presumably, they would suffer the same fate.

Though it could be entered in ­mitigation that the bad Lord only kept kicking his European counterparts in the goolies as the deadline for leaving the EU loomed, because the then prime minister couldn’t manage to read any of his own briefing notes. Maybe his reading hour clashed with his pole-dancing class.

And now, Baron Frost’s knowledge of matters Scottish stretching not very far beyond one of the nation’s favourite bottled pleasures, he feels able to lecture us about where devolution has gone wrong.

Not just us, either. He called the Welsh Senedd “a tinpot amateurish” ­administration and advised us that we didn’t need to be “an actor on the world stage” or have independent tax-­raising powers.

Hilariously, the most strident response to that litany of alleged overstretch has come from Scottish colleagues of his own party. This is not unconnected with the fact that many of them would be ­kicking their heels in well-deserved obscurity were it not for the chance to find a berth in Holyrood.

Yet before we gained our own ­parliament, the notion of Scotland ­having any control over its own affairs was ­rubbished by the very Tory Party which now enjoys a higher profile than it could ever have dreamt possible.

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Still, better the sinner who repenteth and all that. Welcome, too, is the zeal of the convert, with the possible exception of Lord Frost morphing from keen ­Europhile to hardman Brexiteer.

With his attack on devolved ­administrations, the Lord of misrule is doing no more than joining all his ­cronies who, in various ways, have fought to make Holyrood as impotent as possible.

Deploying Section 35 may be the ­current ruse, but it is just the latest ­attempt to tell Holyrood not to get ideas above its lowly station.

Or it was, until Baron Frost of Allenton decided to open his mouth and insert an expensively shod foot therein.