10 Downing Street’s ‘Chief Mouser’ Larry The Cat Sees 6th British PM in 14 Years

The United Kingdom is set to witness a shift in power from the Conservatives to the Labour Party, after 14 years, in the Thursday polls but the real ruler at 10 Downing Street, is here to remain — Larry, the cat. The ageing tabby at Downing Street, who has seen five prime ministers, all from the Conservative Party, is set to get the sixth PM under him, Keir Starmer who won a resounding mandate on Friday.

The feline was recruited under Prime Minister David Cameron in 2011 to get rid of mice and even got an official title: “Chief Mouser”. While his performance in that department left much to be desired, despite a few earlier successes, Larry has been a symbol of stability in the 14 years of political turmoil that UK politics has been witnessing. 

The tabby’s stability stems from his fiercely protective nature of his territory. He had some “heated exchanges” with incumbent PM Rishi Sunak’s fox-red labrador retriever Nova, Sunak’s wife Akshata Murty told AFP. He also saw himself frequently fighting to be a top cat with his counterpart at the foreign ministry, Palmerston. 

But as his rival eventually retired to the countryside, Larry prevailed. 

Labour leader Starmer has a cat, Jojo and a hamster, Bear, but it remains to see whether either of them would move with him, though, not that Larry would mind it. 

As polls opened on July 4, Larry sent a message through his social media account, @Number10cat: “I don’t get to vote in this election, but I do have to live with whoever you elect. No pressure.”

While Larry’s recruiter, Camron once tried to quash rumours that he and the chief mouser did not get along, reporters on the politics beat have said he is friendly with journalists. 

“He tends to come up and have a look when you’re there with the camera crew, he likes to see what the press are up to,” said appropriately named BBC journalist Helen Catt to AFP.  Not just that he is interested in what the media is up to, he also “more used to all of us in the media being around,” photographer Justin Ng told the news agency. 

“He has started to understand that he, we want him to pose for a photograph,” Ng said, adding “And then he may even do an over-the-shoulder like a movie star might do.”

Larry has also spilled the secret of his longevity during an interview, via the human running his social media account, with AFP on his the 10th anniversary of his arrival in power. 

“The key thing to remember is that I live here permanently, the politicians just lodge with me for a bit until they’re fired,” he said.

“They all work out sooner or later that it’s me that runs the place.” 

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