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Dominic Cummings will not be missed

The prospect of a credible post Brexit deal between the UK and the European Union has plainly been enhanced by the abrupt departure of Dominic Cummings as chief adviser to Boris Johnson.

Mr Cummings was widely regarded as the driving force behind the Vote Leave campaign which gained a narrow and deeply contentious win in the 2016 referendum.

It was clear from the start that he had little interest in the disastrous impact that Britain's departure from the EU was going to have on people from all traditions in Ireland, north and south.

He attempted to ignore the clear rejection of Brexit by voters within Northern Ireland, and, although he reportedly used more colourful terms, never denied saying he did not care if the region fell into the sea.

Mr Johnson immediately brought the unelected Mr Cummings into the heart of his administration when he became prime minister in July, 2019, and stood by him during a major controversy over his attitude towards the covid lockdown earlier this year.

However, reports that Mr Johnson was losing the confidence of senior colleagues over both his response to the pandemic and his wider performance have been gaining ground.

Mr Cummings made a very public exit on Friday, insisting on walking out of the front door of Downing Street with his possessions in a cardboard box, prompting speculation that his confrontational brand of politics is leaving with him and a serious attempt will be made to reach an accommodation with the EU.

It will also be noted that Donald Trump, a spiritual brother to Mr Cummings, is finally close to accepting the factual inevitability that he lost the US presidential election and will have no option other than to vacate the White House.

His successor, Joe Biden, has made it clear that, unless the 1998 Good Friday Agreement is fully respected, new US trading arrangements with the UK cannot be endorsed.

It is possible that a new and more realistic set of realities is filtering into relationships between the EU, the US and the UK, which will have huge Irish implications, and developments in the coming weeks will be closely studied.

If the era of Trump and Cummings, with all that it signifies, is really fading into history, it will be a hugely positive development.

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Leading article