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Prime ministerial hopeful Dominic Raab on why he is not a feminist and how he was 'undermined' as Brexit secretary

Dominic Raab regards himself as the "underdog fighting for the underdog" in the race to become the next Conservative Party leader, and also the country's next prime minister.

In a wide-ranging interview with Political Correspondent Paul Brand, the Esher and Walton MP opened up about his family's past in fleeing from the Nazis in Czechoslovakia, why he does not consider himself a feminist, and why he believes that if he had been "backed up and not undermined by others in Government" during his time as Brexit secretary, the UK could have achieved a deal with the EU that would have been acceptable to Parliament.

The former Cabinet minister, also told ITV News that legal proceedings against Boris Johnson could have a chilling effect on democracy in Britain.

The former Brexit Secretary said the timing of the legal case against Mr Johnson over allegations he lied when he said the UK gave the EU £350m a week was a "worry", with the Conservative Party leadership battle due to begin in just over a week.

Mr Raab, who is one of 11 Tory MPs to put themselves forward for the leadership, said he felt there could be a chilling effect on democratic debate in Britain if courts become embroiled in political discourse.

Speaking exclusively to ITV News, Mr Raab said: "I think the one thing I would say as a matter of principle though is that I do worry a little about the timing of this as a private prosecution, and the sense that the cut and thrust of democratic debate ought to be decided by your viewers, rather than in court.

"And I think that in order to preserve free speech and democratic debate that's something we should all think carefully and consider."

Mr Raab was part of the Vote Leave campaign along with Mr Johnson which printed the contentious claim about how much we sent to the EU every week.

A private prosecution is being brought against Boris Johnson over accusations of misconduct in public office over claims he was lying when he said the UK gave the EU £350 million a week. Credit: PA

When asked if he would be willing to go to court to defend the former Foreign Secretary, Mr Raab said: "I answered all these questions at the time.

"I think we made the case on the basis of net contribution.

"The gross contribution was £350 million a week, and I think this is the stuff of democratic debate.

"Of course no one has presented me with any legal challenge in relation to what I specifically said during that referendum campaign."

Dominic Raab on why a Brexit deal wasn't approved by Parliament

In the interview at his home, Mr Raab also claimed that he was "undermined" during his time in Government.

He said he believes the UK could have achieved a deal with the EU that would have been approved by Parliament, if he had been backed up while Brexit secretary.

"There were various moments between July and October where I made it clear that we need to stick to a more robust line on the backstop," Mr Raab said.

He added: "I think if I'd have been backed up then and not undermined by others in Government we'd have had a much better chance of getting a deal over the line acceptable to the UK and capable of passing through Parliament."

Despite claiming he'd have helped get a deal through Parliament if he had not been undermined, the former Brexit secretary said he would have walked away if a deal was not reached.

Dominic Raab on the potential for a deal and walking away without one

Mr Raab said he believed a deal could be struck with Brussels - but that he would be willing to walk away by the end of October.

He said: "I think that we've had posturing from the EU all along but in a sense, the EU will make its own choices.

"What I would be willing to do is go back to the EU and say look, based on the only proposals that have passed through Parliament, the Brady amendment and the Malthouse compromise, there are changes that could be made to the negotiations and the deal that would be acceptable.

"But if its the EU's choice that they're not going to give anything, that they're not going to budge, that they're going to remain stubbornly intransigent, then we must give the public and businesses the finality of saying that we would leave at the end of October, and as Prime Minister, that's what I would do."

Dominic Raab on Speaker John Bercow and a no-deal Brexit

There are suggestions that Speaker of the House John Bercow - who recently declared his intention to stay in his role - may frustrate attempts for a no-deal outcome.

When asked if he thought Mr Bercow's decision to remain House Speaker would affect chances of a no-deal Brexit, Mr Raab claimed it would be "difficult for Parliament to stop the Government".

He said: "No I don't think that will affect the chances and I think Parliament should of course have its say right the way through this.

"But actually I think it's very difficult for Parliament to frustrate Brexit if the Government is serious about keeping its promises to the people of this country."

Despite saying Parliament cannot stop a no-deal Brexit, the former minister said "it's not what I want, I want a better deal."

He added: "I'll go back with every ounce of energy that I've got to try and persuade the EU that there's a deal that can be done.

"But if they don't move we must give this country a sense of direction, get out of this rut and take Britain forward and that's what I'd do."

Speaker of the House John Bercow has announced his intention to stay in his role until Brexit is resolved. Credit: PA

How emotional is the former Brexit secretary?

Despite his passion for the UK leaving the European Union Mr Raab says he is not an emotional person and says wearing his heart on his sleeve is not his unique selling point.

In fact, when asked about the last time he cried, the MP began his answer with "oh God".

After some pondering he said: "I'm not someone that bursts into tears but I can tell you we wept when my father died, my mum's been through cancer twice.

"I think those were moments when of course I was very choked up but we've also got the stubborn optimism to pull through."

Is Dominic Raab a feminist?

Dominic Raab says he is probably not a feminist. Credit: ITV News

That stubborn optimism shone through when he was asked by ITV News Political Correspondent Paul Brand if he stood by his comment that "some feminists are obnoxious bigots".

He responded: "The point I was making is that sexism is wrong and it's wrong if it's said about a woman or about a man and I think equality is too precious a value for us to put up with double standards.

"I do think we should call hypocrisy out in political debate and political life."

He defended his record on equality, describing two moments in his legal career where he stood up for women's rights.

Despite this, when asked if he would describe himself as a feminist he remarked "no, probably not".

He added: But I would describe myself as someone who's a champion of equality and meritocracy."

Would Raab make it easier for people to change gender?

Mr Raab claims he wants "everyone to feel comfortable in their own skin" but says he doesn't think he wants to make it easier for people to change their gender.

He said: "I do worry a little bit with some of this debate whether it's in relation to vulnerable women in prisons or children in school that we don't just take a very balanced approach.

"We need to be a society which is small L liberal, if you like, tolerant and open and warm to the LGBT community but I also worry about the vulnerability of other people."

He added: "We need to get the balance right."