Boris Johnson has being wielding the axe on the most powerful people in Whitehall.
First the head of the Home Office quit in a ‘bullying’ row with Priti Patel. Then Cabinet Secretary Mark Sedwill announced he’d quit after being targeted by the PM’s backers.- Advertisement -
Now perhaps we have the worse purr-ge of all – Palmerston, the Foreign Office’s chief mouser and ‘Diplomog’.
The pet is set for retirement after four years of service in Whitehall, where he was brought in as a rescue from Battersea Dogs and Cats Home.
But he insists there’s no catfight. At least, not if you believe his rather suspiciously ghost-written retirement letter.
Instead Palmerston says he’s resigning to spend more time with his favourite tree, after being taken out of London during lockdown.
The move was revealed by Sir Simon McDonald, permanent under-secretary at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, who is himself taking early retirement after being targeted by the PM’s allies.
He said the cat would like to spend more time “away from the limelight” after enjoying “working from home” during the coronavirus pandemic.
“I have found life away from the front line relaxed, quieter, and easier,” the letter signed in Palmerston’s name read.
Larry’s arrival in 2016 prompted a vicious rivalry with Downing Street cat Larry.
In one early scrap, Palmerston ripped the collar off Number 10’s Larry leading to fears for the pets’ welfare.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman insisted Larry remained “on fine form” after the incident.
“My 105,000 twitter followers show that even those with four legs and fur have an important part to play in the UK’s global effort,” Palmerston’s letter said today.
“I have championed our work, built our relationships, and celebrated the diversity of our staff.”
Palmerston will not be completely retreating from public life, however, with the letter stating that he will “always be an ambassador for the UK and the new Foreign, Commonwealth and Development office”.
Sir Simon replied to the letter on Twitter, stating that everyone at the Foreign office will “miss him”.
“In 2016 Palmerston arrived from Battersea, mouser and social media phenomenon,” he said.
“After four-and-a-half happy years, he retires at end of August: he’s enjoyed lockdown life in countryside so much, he’s decided to stay.”
Foreign Office staff paid tribute to the outgoing mouser, with Jon Benjamin, director of the department’s Diplomatic Academy, wishing him a “very happy retirement”.
“He left us a slightly chewed dead mouse next to my desk in UKDipAcademy once, and we were of course not very grateful,” he added.
Caron Rohsler, British high commissioner to the Maldives, tweeted a goodbye message from her embassy’s own diplomatic feline, Miska.
It read: “Congratulations on your exemplary service to British foreign affairs, & for fur-thering the cause of diversity in our noble institution. I’m sure an elevation to the pawrage cannot be far off.”