DOMINIC Cummings spent hours debating Brexit and Scottish independence with staff at an Ullapool hotel during a visit to the area.

It had been reported that staff hadn’t been happy with the former Vote Leave chief’s appearance at the Ceilidh Place – but owner Jock Urquhart insisted the venue would not discriminate against customers based on their political beliefs.

After the 2019 General Election Urquhart publicly criticised Brexit after customers aimed xenophobic comments at one of his waiters, who was French.

Anti-Brexit voices have also long warned that the Highlands are at risk of worker shortages due to leaving the EU. The area is particularly reliant on EU nationals working in its hospitality sector. 

“My sister and I are increasingly befuddled by Brexit and this just puts the tin lid on it,” he told the Ross-shire Journal at the time.

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It was reported in the newspaper this week that to quell concerns from staff unhappy about Cummings eating in the restaurant, Urquhart said he would serve the Brexiteer himself. After that, Cummings offered to discuss various political issues with the employees.

Last Thursday the Prime Minister’s former chief adviser visited the restaurant for a third time and was grilled by Urquhart and colleagues from 8.20pm for three hours.

By the end of the debate, Urquhart reported there was a “grudging mutual respect” between those involved.

Urquhart told the Ross-shire Journal: “Anyone who didn’t want to interact with Mr Cummings was given the right not to do so and he was looked after by a member of the senior management team.

The National:

“Mr Cummings was aware of this animosity, but he chose to dine with us and offered to spend some of his own time in a robust and frank exchange of views with those members of staff less enamoured with his presence.

“That meeting took place later in the week and it was a very interesting experience for all concerned.”

Cummings later tweeted: “If visiting beautiful Ullapool strongly recommend the Ceilidh Place, great hotel (& v interesting political discussions with owner/staff on Brexit, independence...)”

Martin Gilligan, a hospitality worker in the area, replied: “It was a peculiar pleasure to meet you,  though we disagreed profoundly on some matters, I thank and respect you for taking time to explain your perspective, listen to ours, and for some fascinating insights to the workings of the inner government.”

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During his time in government – which came to an end in November following a Number 10 power struggle – Cummings was not particularly involved in the independence debate.

However he did address Scottish issues earlier this year when he told The National that former boss Johnson would like to scrap the Holyrood Parliament.

Asked what the Tory leader really thinks about Scotland, Cummings said: “He’s an unthinkign [sic] Unionist. Thinks devolution/Scottish parliament was a disaster, wd like to reverse it but wont dare try …”