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Dominic Cummings

From evil genius to “complete idler”

David Levenson/Getty Images

After graduating from Oxford in 1994, Dominic Cummings headed to the “gold-rush environment” of post-Soviet Russia, he tells Lynn Barber in The Spectator. There he found “extreme corruption, oligarchs stealing everything, unbelievable nightclubs”. He tried to set up an airline flying from Samara to Vienna, but was “chased out of town by the mafia” and left the country after a couple of years.

His time in Downing Street ended in a similarly abrupt manner. Cummings had always distrusted Carrie Johnson, whom he thought “was a wrong ‘un from the day I first met her back in 2016”. When he and Boris Johnson “came to the break-up in the final few days, we sat on the sofa and he started reading out questions from his phone and I said, ‘Have you lost your mind? Your crazy girlfriend is sitting upstairs texting you questions?’ And he was like, ‘Omigod, you’re right, she’s driving me crackers. We’ve got to find her a job with lots of foreign travel.’”

But it was Carrie who won the battle for the PM’s favour, and Cummings left No 10 last November. “I am a complete idler,” he says. “Basically I just sit around reading, and talking to my wife and boy, interspersed with occasional projects that catch my interest.” I tell him I’ve concluded that reading is a waste of time, because I always forget everything. “I know exactly what you mean. But when I think what I could do instead I can’t think of anything.”

Despite his denials, he clearly misses being in the thick of British politics. “He keeps chewing over the past, while also worrying about whether an asteroid will hit the Earth. I want to tell him: ‘Don’t worry, be happy.’”