UK Prime Minister David Cameron has been forced to take dramatic action against the Downing Street rats in his ranks. Earlier this week his aides denied that action was necessary even though BBC television had exposed the threat to a national audience.

25-01-2011 downingstreetrats

But today the number of rat sightings grew so great that the residents of No 10 have been forced to act. A cat is being installed.

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The London Telegraph reports that David Cameron’s aides have confirmed they will look for a new cat. A No10 official said: “We have not yet been to Battersea cats and dogs home – not yet.”

Cats in Downing Street have had a chequered history. A black and white cat called Humphrey – after the character in the hit comedy Yes, Minister – was adopted by No10 staff in 1989 while Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister. Humphrey had wandered into the building as a stray.

But when Tony Blair’s New Labour romped to victory in 1997 the cat was moved out within six months of the Blairs entering No10. Mr Blair’s office denied that the cat was banished because Cheri Blair disliked it.

Humphrey died in March 2006 at the home of a civil servant who cared for him during his “retirement”.

Next into the fray was Sybil, owned by Alistair Darling’s wife Maggie. It was brought down from the then-Chancellor’s Edinburgh home to Downing Street in a bid to rid the house of mice.

But Sybil did not settle and returned home.

The new threat of rodents was illustrated last week when Gary O’Donoghue, a BBC political correspondent, was delivering a report from Downing Street. A large rat ran behind him and past the door of No10.

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Peter Fray
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