Staff at Ceilidh Place restaurant in Ullapool have an opportunity to grill ex-Prime Minister Dominic Cummings on Brexit during after-hours debate
DOMINIC Cummings gave staff at a Wester Ross hotel an extraordinary Brexit Question Time debate after dining at his popular restaurant.
The former chief adviser to Boris Johnson, one of the UK’s leading architects leaving the European Union, offered to meet workers at Ceilidh Place in Ullapool after several expressed their displeasure at having to serve him.
Mr Cummings, the former Prime Minister’s strategist turned antagonist, arrived on Tuesday last week for dinner with family members while on vacation.
Owner Jock Urquhart was away that evening but was approached the following evening by disgruntled staff when Mr Cummings (39) and his group returned.
Mr. Urquhart made it clear that Ceilidh Place does not discriminate against customers on the basis of their political beliefs.
In December 2019, the owner of the popular restaurant, bookstore and hotel blamed attitudes fueled by Brexit over disturbing xenophobic comments aimed at a French waiter by two elderly customers.
There was a surge of support for both the staff member and for Mr. Urquhart’s tough stand overnight.
To appease some of his disgruntled employees last week, Mr Urquhart said he would personally serve Mr Cummings while quietly explaining the situation to the brain of Vote Leave.
It was then that Mr. Cummings made his surprising offer to meet with the staff and discuss the source of their animosity.
He returned on his own for a third evening meal Thursday last week, arriving at 8:20 p.m. for a grill from Mr. Urquhart and several toasty staff in the back of the premises.
What followed was over three hours of a “very frank exchange of views”, with the politician listening “with interest” to views and concerns.
While no one changed his mind, Mr Urquhart said there was “grudging mutual respect” at the end of the debate.
Mr Urquhart (44), who took over the management of Ceilidh Place from Mum Jean, said: “I can confirm that Mr Cummings was in Ullapool and has been to Ceilidh Place on several occasions. Some of our staff had political ambivalence towards him and were keen not to serve him.
“However, on an organizational level, Ceilidh Place considered that denial of service for reasons of political conviction is a dangerously slippery slope.
“Anyone who didn’t want to interact with Mr. Cummings had the right not to and he was taken care of by a member of the management team.
“Mr. Cummings was aware of this animosity, but he chose to dine with us and offered to spend some of his time in a solid and frank exchange of views with staff members less enamored with his presence.
“This meeting took place later in the week and it was a very interesting experience for everyone involved. “
After leaving Downing Street, Mr Cummings criticized the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the Prime Minister’s leadership.
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