An interview with Dominic Cummings


By BAGEHOT

IN MY column this week I profile Dominic Cummings, a former government adviser who is now campaign director for Vote Leave, the largest of the groups vying to lead the Out campaign in Britian’s upcoming referendum on the European Union (EU). Mr Cummings is blunt, energetic and clever; he infuriates some but inspires intense loyalty among colleagues; he wants Eurosceptic campaigners to fight the impending battle as insurgents against an establishment he considers overwhelmingly pro-European (already Vote Leave has sent protesters to heckle David Cameron at a speech to the CBI). With him at its helm, the Out campaign will be unlike anything British politics has seen before, predicts one close (though pro-EU) observer.

Although I disagree with Mr Cummings on the EU, his arguments against it are appealingly thoughtful and in a sense optimistic. He serves as a reminder that not all Eurosceptics are tweedy, isolationist Little Englanders; that there is a liberal, whiggish even, strain of anti-EU thought in Britain that deserves to be engaged with seriously (here one could also mention Douglas Carswell, the cheerily libertarian UKIP MP who, unlike many of his party comrades, backs Vote Leave over its bitter rival, Leave.eu).

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