Steerpike

Palmerston’s retirement leaves Larry as top cat

Palmerston's retirement leaves Larry as top cat
Palmerston outside Number 10 (photo: Getty)
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Power struggles at the heart of government continued today, with a key member of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office announcing his retirement. Palmerston the cat, Chief Mouser of the department since 2016, announced he was stepping down via the Foreign Office Twitter account. In a statement, Palmerston explained that working from home over lockdown had made him reconsider his position. He had found life ‘relaxed, quieter and easier’, and decided his age meant it was finally time to take a ‘step back’.

Could internal struggles be behind Palmerston’s decision to remove himself from the political fray? Famously, Larry the cat, Chief Mouser at the Cabinet Office, had his differences with his Foreign Office equivalent, with reports that there had been a physical altercation between the two in February 2018. While some commentators ascribed the fracas to the pressure the government was under due to the increasingly fraught Brexit negotiations, clearly there were more deep-seated issues that failed to be resolved.

Larry will now be aware that Palmerston’s retirement leaves him as indisputably the most powerful cat in Whitehall. Nonetheless, reported difficulties with Dilyn, the dog at Number 10, mean that he cannot count himself free of political rivals just yet…

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to steerpike@spectator.co.uk.

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