Dominic Cummings: master of the dark arts handed keys to No 10

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The Bismarck-obsessed Brexiter hates the civil service and called Cameron ‘a sphinx without a riddle’

A month into 2016, two men were dining one evening in Rotorino, an Italian restaurant in Kingsland Road, Hackney. It rapidly became clear that one of those at the table was deeply distracted, taking regular calls and going outside into darkness for 10 minutes at a time to remonstrate. Each time he returned, he was more contemptuous. An operation was under way to remove him from his job. He started blaming dysfunctional idiots. The name Bernard Jenkin came up a lot. As the punctuated evening wore on, and his linguine rapidly cooled, the dishevelled figure popping up and down from the table gradually relaxed, telling his patient companion he thought it was going to be OK. “The donors are going to see them off.”

It was probably the most concerted effort of many that have been made to marginalise Dominic Cummings from British politics, on this occasion his leadership of the Vote Leave campaign in particular. If it had succeeded, it is quite possible the leave campaign, instead offering a one-dimensional message about immigration, would have lost. But history turned a different page.

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