Dominic Raab is Boris Johnson’s nominated stand-in | World news

Boris Johnson has said he is only suffering mild symptoms of Covid-19 and will continue working in the coming days – but if he is incapacitated by the virus, the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, has been nominated as the “designated survivor”.

That means he would take up the prime minister’s responsibilities if Johnson were unable to perform them himself. Aides insist Johnson can continue to work by video link, like much of the rest of the workforce.

Even outside a health crisis, Raab holds the title of first secretary of state, as well as foreign secretary – in effect, the prime minister’s deputy.

Like many of the government’s key decision-makers, he was a prominent figure in the 2016 Vote Leave campaign, sent out to tour TV studios and staff up the spin rooms for debates.

Unlike Michael Gove, whose dramatic intervention in that summer’s leadership contest has been forgiven but not forgotten, Raab is implicitly trusted by Johnson and his team. Also unlike Gove, he resigned rather than accept Theresa May’s Brexit deal – seen as the ultimate test of a true believer.

Raab’s own tilt at the Conservative leadership last year was masterminded by Paul Stephenson, another Vote Leave veteran. Conveniently, Raab’s no-holds-barred Brexit stance allowed Johnson to appear the moderate leaver.

Stephenson, who now runs a PR consultancy, Hanbury Strategy, was brought in to work on the Conservatives’ general election campaign.

And he has been given the task of sifting through potential applicants for special adviser posts in government, as Johnson’s director of communications, Lee Cain, another Vote Leaver, tries to shake up the usual recruitment process.

His involvement, like Raab’s role as designated last man standing, underlines the fact that when team Johnson are looking for backup, they tend to reach first for their battle-hardened comrades from the referendum campaign.

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