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Dominic Cummings debates Brexit and Scottish independence for three hours with disgruntled waiters



Dominic Cummings debated Brexit and Scottish independence for more than three hours with staff at a restaurant where he was holidaying after they expressed their displeasure at having to serve him.


The former Vote Leave mastermind was dining for the second time with his family at the restaurant in the Scottish Highlands when he was made aware of the staff’s antipathy.


Jock Urquhart, the owner of the Ceilidh Place in Ullapool, decided to appease his unhappy workers by personally serving Mr Cummings while quietly explaining the situation to his famous guest.


This prompted Mr Cummings to make the surprise offer to meet the staff and discuss the reasons for their animosity. He returned to the restaurant the following night but this time alone.


The Prime Minister’s former chief advisor then went head to head with Mr Urquhart and several staff in a snug at the rear of the premises for more than three hours.


Mr Urquhart said there was a “very forthright exchange of opinions”, with the political figure listening “with interest” to views and concerns.


The discussion encompassed Brexit, Scottish independence, the pandemic and Boris Johnson. His controversial lockdown trip to Durham last year that caused public uproar was also mentioned in passing.


While he refused to disclose the details of the exchanges, Mr Urquhart said nobody involved changed their opinion and told the Ross-shire Journal there was “a grudging mutual respect” by the end of the debate.


Mr Cummings then returned the following day with his family for another meal, his fourth to the restaurant during his holiday, and this time the staff served him.


Mr Urquhart told The Telegraph it had been a “learning” experience on both sides. He said: “We had a discussion with more heat than light but it was interesting. It was quite an experience to get one of the big beasts.


“He was slippery – he didn’t give anything away and he was not telling tales out of school. We didn’t change our minds on Brexit and I didn’t convert him to the cause of Scottish independence.”


Mr Urquhart, the son of a former SNP MSP who later left the party, was absent the first day that Mr Cummings and his family came to his restaurant on Aug 8.


However, he was approached by disgruntled staff when they returned three days later, on Aug 11, for another meal.


Mr Urquhart said there was a “bit of an internal discussion” about whether Mr Cummings and his family should be served but he made clear “that refusal of service on the grounds of political belief is a dangerous slippery slope”.


When Mr Cummings offered to speak to the staff over the reasons they felt aggrieved, the restaurant owner replied that they were all busy on their shifts. However, the former Vote Leave guru’s offer to return the following day was accepted.


Mr Urquhart said he blamed Brexit for difficulty in recruiting staff from Eastern Europe during the summer season.





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