If embattled Liz Truss wants to know how to deal with pesky backbench rebels, she could do worse than copy the purrfect approach of Larry, the Downing Street cat.

Shortly before 10pm on the eve of a potentially fractious cabinet meeting and MPs returning to Westminster to confront Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng, a sly fox approached the front door of 10 Downing Street.

Was it the cunning Tory backbench rebel leader Michael Gove in disguise? Or was it the stealthy spreadsheet guru Grant Shapps? Either way, Larry saw off the wiry intruder with style and aplomb.

As crafty as a veteran grandee plotter, the fox paraded in front of the famous black door of No 10 as if to goad the prime minister about the scale of the mutiny she faces from Conservative MPs over her tax plans and borrowing.

Then Larry stepped up, now serving his fourth Tory prime minister. Some Downing Street insiders have cruelly suggested that at 15 he’s past it these days and his record of him as mouser and ratter is not what it was.

But this display of courage here will give those critics paws for thought. He stood firm, at first stalking his prey, then moving slowly and menacingly forward until he accelerated and chased the fox into the bushes and then down the street.

It was a predatory performance that Wendy Morton, the PM’s chief whip, could learn from in dealing with those rebel MPs in the weeks ahead. Or perhaps she should hire Larry as her Commons enforcer for her.

Some in No 10 reckon Larry has been bolder since Boris and Carrie Johnson’s Jack Russell cross Dilyn moved out in the summer. Maybe. On this showing, though, Larry the Cat is top dog in Downing Street.

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