There are fears for the future of No 10’s chief mouser, Larry the Cat, The Londoner understands.
With new residents about to move in, hacks and Spads are said to have raised concerns about whether Larry — an 11-year-old tabby who moved into Downing Street eight years ago under David Cameron’s government — would still be welcome after the changing of the guard.
One source told The Londoner that civil servants have been making enquiries at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home to see if Larry might be able to return there, though Battersea told us this morning it had not been contacted, and No 10 dismissed concerns.
Larry, who is renowned for his sharp claws, is not beloved of everyone. He was recently in trouble after giving the Tory director of communications Robbie Gibb’s daughter a scratching at the No 10 summer party, and is also known to have been catty to the Foreign Office’s much younger cat, Palmerston. On the other hand, he is also considered to be a bellwether for the nation.
While he warmed to Barack Obama, during Donald Trump’s visit last month, he lay down under POTUS’s car so that it was unable to move. A wry (unofficial) Twitter account dedicated to the tabby has 290,000 followers.
There are other concerns for Larry. One source close to the cat says they are more worried about his health, saying this morning that “Larry is sleeping a lot these days. He might be going to the cattery in the sky”.
But happily, both Johnson and Hunt’s teams were keen to offer assurances this morning that Larry would be safe. “Larry’s position is safe under Jeremy,” confirmed a Hunt source. “His record at the FCO with Palmerston shows he can be trusted to deliver for all the Whitehall cats.
“What this country needs is an entreprepurr.” They added: “Jeremy might prefer Palmerston but that doesn’t mean he’s got his claws out for Larry.”
And despite rumours that Johnson might be a dog person, Team Boris said this morning: “If Boris wins, Larry has nothing to fear.”
The wurst taste
Last year the Canadian embassy started a trend by inviting government Spads over for drinks and food.
Since then the US, Australia and Ireland have followed suit. Last night, it was the Germans’ turn to host, serving up bratwurst and a giant keg of beer (which the Spads drained).
Overall, the atmosphere was friendly, though the German ambassador raised eyebrows when he announced that boisterous Speaker John Bercow has amassed a cult following in his country and that Germans wish the Bundestag had a livelier speaker. “He’s the wurst brat,” a grumpy Spad muttered.
The BBC’s Nick Robinson says Sir Kim Darroch has a way with words. “Darroch proves the truth of my favourite definition of a diplomat,” he writes in this week’s Spectator, “as someone who tells you to go to hell in a way that leads you to ask for directions and look forward to the trip.”
Rather poor diplomacy, meanwhile, from Boisdale owner Ranald Macdonald at last night’s Scotland vs USA dinner in Mayfair. Scottish lobster and Scottish beef won the diners’ vote but when Macdonald boasted, over the third course, that Britain was “the greatest cheese-producing nation on Earth”, his French master of wine Edouard Baijot’s face turned puce.
Jungle Toff swings back to Johnson camp
Georgia Toffolo is a friend of the Johnson family — specifically Johnson elder Stanley, with whom she forged a close bond on reality TV show I’m A Celebrity... Nonetheless, The Londoner hears that she wanted to work on Jeremy Hunt’s leadership campaign — and not just because of his Spad, who is nicknamed SpAdonis. Sadly, her help was not required on Team Hunt and she was spotted at last night’s Tory hustings wearing a “Back Boris” badge. Stanley will be pleased.
Rising stars flock to Shoreditch for Warner’s tropical summer shindig
Throbbing beats and up-and-coming talent filled the Maya bar on top of a tropical-themed and packed-out Shoreditch House last night for the Warner Music annual summer drinks party.
Guests including Laura Whitmore, Louise Redknapp, Nick Hendrix, James Atherton and Portia Freeman nibbled on poké and fresh salads while waiting for the margaritas to kick in to get down to some serious dancing.
Alfie Allen was also in attendance, celebrating his recent Emmy nomination for Best Supporting Actor in Game of Thrones. Sister Lily congratulated her little brother with an Instagram story, writing: “OMG he has an Emmy nom, GO ALF!!!!!!!!”
The Smile singer once dedicated a song called Alfie to her sibling. Lyrics include “I just can’t sit back and watch your waste you life away, you need to get a job because the bills you need to pay” and “how the hell do you ever expect to get laid?”.
Nick Clegg — now head of global affairs and communications at Facebook — finds California rather different to SW1A. “There’s lots of sleeveless Patagonia puffa things and shoes with no socks,” he tells The New Statesman. “I never wear a suit... You don’t have any of the Westminster lunching culture here. Lunch is basically broccoli with some suspect sauce while you’re in a meeting. I’m constantly using phrases that I shouldn’t, which then leave everybody utterly stunned... I stick out like a sore thumb.”
Outgoing PM Theresa May asked in her Chatham House speech yesterday: “Has every phrase I’ve used been perfect in every way? No.” Someone had to say it.
Boris Johnson told the audience at last night’s Tory hustings at ExCel London: “When I was mayor of this great city, the population increased by 200,000.” A pause. “Nothing to do with me.”
Quote of the day
‘This is going to sound pretty weird, but ultimately, we will achieve symbiosis with artificial intelligence’
Yes, Elon Musk, it does sound pretty weird