Be­fore he was Lord of Leave, Do­minic Cum­mings guarded ‘Europe’s worst night­club’. We re­veal se­cret past of... THE BREXIT ‘BOUNCER’


BREXIT master­mind Do­minic Cum­mings de­vel­oped his tough guy ten­den­cies dur­ing a spell as a night­club door­man.

Chan­nel 4 view­ers last week saw ac­tor Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch re-cre­ate the mo­ment Cum­mings punched a hole in a ceil­ing tile after a rous­ing speech cel­e­brat­ing 2016’s ref­er­en­dum win for the Vote Leave cam­paign.

Cum­mings, 47, the cam­paign’s then di­rec­tor, was por­trayed by Sher­lock star Cum­ber­batch in TV drama Brexit: The Un­civil War as an ec­cen­tric yet ruth­less po­lit­i­cal strate­gist who was the most im­por­tant be­hind-the-scenes brain help­ing to de­liver the win.

But most view­ers didn’t know about his un­usual past, in­clud­ing his un­con­ven­tional in­tro­duc­tion to work­ing life man­ning the doors out­side a north­east­ern night­club owned by his un­cle.

Pri­vately ed­u­cated at the pres­ti­gious Durham School in the city of Durham, Cum­mings went on to com­plete his aca­demic ed­u­ca­tion at Ex­eter Col­lege, Ox­ford.

He first gained a taste of the real world on Fri­day and Satur­day nights out­side Durham’s Klute Night­club.

He helped his un­cle Phil run the club, which was once dubbed “Europe’s worst”.

One for­mer col­league said: “He would help man­age the place with his un­cle but also sta­tioned him­self out­side on week­ends.

“He might not have looked like a door­man but he had a way with him that sug­gested it wasn’t worth tak­ing him on. I never saw any­one go for him phys­i­cally and there’s al­ways a dan­ger of that, but he never looked ner­vous or out of his depth.

“I knew one of the other staff who worked up­stairs in the restau­rant who Do­minic was on orders to al­low in for free – but you could see he didn’t like do­ing that. Maybe, in hind­sight, he would have pre­ferred a points-based en­try sys­tem!”

Cum­mings grad­u­ated from Ox­ford in 1994 after read­ing an­cient and mod­ern his­tory. Friends there re­mem­ber him as a “com­plete loner” to begin with, who in­stantly dis­played an un­con­ven­tional streak. One ex­plained: “He was... not the kind of easy-go­ing per­son you’d want to make friends with on the first day of uni.

“He al­ways wore a shiny base­ball jacket that made him stick out, de­spite his at­tempts to go un­no­ticed. Even­tu­ally a pal be­friended him and – to my ini­tial dis­gust – he started com­ing along to nights out in the pub.

“He bonded with the blokes and in­spired a sense of loy­alty and com­rade­ship that con­tin­ues to this day.”

While his rowdy stu­dent peers were reg­u­larly pun­ished for their bad be­hav­iour by uni­ver­sity of­fi­cials, Cum­mings man­aged to avoid their ire.

So much so that con­tem­po­raries sus­pected a sin­is­ter ex­pla­na­tion.

“Dom man­aged to go un­der the radar, an enig­matic fig­ure on the fringes. So much so we thought he was be­ing groomed for MI5 by one of the dons who had a rep­u­ta­tion for re­cruit­ing would-be spies.”

Whether or not he had the skills to be a James Bond-style su­per spy re­mains un­cer­tain, although com­ing off second best to a furry an­i­mal at a theme park sug­gests oth­er­wise.

The friend added: “Once a group of us went to Al­ton Tow­ers. A squir­rel jumped in a bin and was trapped.

“While the rest of us dithered, Dom put his hand in to try to res­cue it, only for the squir­rel to sav­age his arm by us­ing it as a lad­der to es­cape!”

It was at uni­ver­sity where he found pol­i­tics to be his true pas­sion.

The friend noted: “Dom’s real turn­ing point came was when he was tu­tored by con­tro­ver­sial Right-wing aca­demic Nor­man Stone, be­com­ing his pro­tege.

“After that his leg­endary rants only got more im­pas­sioned – but I think Stone was Dom’s pass­port into the po­lit­i­cal world.”

After leav­ing uni­ver­sity Cum­mings first came to promi­nence po­lit­i­cally as cam­paign di­rec­tor for Busi­ness for Ster­ling, an or­gan­i­sa­tion that suc­cess­fully helped the fight to keep Bri­tain from drop­ping the pound for the euro.

He later be­came chief of staff to for­mer Con­ser­va­tive party leader Iain Dun­can Smith, quit­ting after a few months over the slow pace of re­form.

Cum­mings’ un­com­pro­mis­ing at­ti­tude was on dis­play again as spe­cial ad­viser to the then Sec­re­tary of State for Ed­u­ca­tion Michael Gove be­tween 2010 and 2014.

He helped upset the po­lit­i­cal es­tab­lish­ment with a string of con­tro­ver­sial ideas, in­clud­ing scrap­ping GCSEs be­fore tak­ing up the role in com­mand of Vote Leave’s ref­er­en­dum strat­egy.

And Cum­mings is cred­ited with dreaming up the slo­gan “Take back con­trol” – a phrase crit­i­cised by many on the Re­main side.

But, given his door­man past, “Your name’s not down, you’re not com­ing in” could have been an even more con­tro­ver­sial al­ter­na­tive.

BOLD: Cum­mings, above, acted as door­man at his un­cle’s club in Durham, left, and, right, Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch in the Chan­nel 4 drama

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