Embattled Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is apparently facing a new threat to his position in government from an unlikely source – Larry the Downing Street cat. “There’s no doubt that Nick Clegg is bloody worried by the immediate impact Larry’s had in Downing Street,” a government insider has revealed. “He fears that cat could be a credible contender for his job.” Larry the cat, ostensibly brought into Number Ten to combat a problem with rats, first hit the headlines when he took control of the government earlier this year, whilst Prime Minister David Cameron was in the Middle East selling arms to local despots. “Nick made the mistake of picking that week to go on a skiing holiday,” explains the insider. “I mean, it was an easy mistake to make when you are Deputy Prime Minister – forgetting that you are meant to be in charge when the Prime Minister’s away. Sadly for him, the cat saw his opportunity and seized it.” Four year old tabby Larry impressed ministers, civil servants and advisers with his decisiveness. “They were amazed at the number of major decisions he made in such a short time,” says the insider. “All of them were about fish, but nonetheless, they were decisions. It was a real contrast with the times that Clegg has been left in the driving seat.”

Larry’s smooth performance at Prime Minister’s Question Time impressed many commentators, drawing favourable comparisons with Clegg’s stuttering performances when deputising for Cameron. “Larry’s strategy – responding to every question by rolling on his back and blinking at the opposition benches – was nothing short of brilliant,” enthuses Bob Sniffer, Parliamentary Correspondent for the Daily Excess. “He had the entire Labour front bench tickling his stomach and scratching him behind the ears. Ed Miliband even fed him a pilchard.” The cat’s media performances have been equally impressive. “Fiona Bruce completely lost the thread of her questioning over NHS reforms when he replied to every question by purring,” notes Sniffer. “She ended up just scratching him under the chin and giving him a saucer of milk.” Indeed, many political commentators believe that Clegg is in danger of finding himself marginalised within the coalition, thanks to Larry’s success. “It’s highly significant that, not only has Larry been given the chairmanship of several key cabinet committees, but that the Prime Minister has once again left him in charge during his trip to Afghanistan,” Sniffer points out. “It’s a pretty humiliating position for Clegg to find himself in – being passed over in favour of someone who licks his own arse in public.”

Clegg is reportedly especially worried by the fact that the cat is actually resident in Number Ten. “Whilst there’s a connecting corridor between Nick’s room in the Cabinet Office and Number Ten, it just isn’t the same as the cat flap Larry has in the back door of the Prime Minister’s house,” says the insider. “Besides, David has got so fed up with him keep wandering in at all hours, he’s jammed a chair under the handle of Nick’s connecting door.” Clegg has apparently tried to gain access to the Prime Minister via Larry’s cat flap, but was foiled by the fact that he wasn’t wearing a collar with a magnetic device to unlock the flap. “He’s worried by the fact that Larry doesn’t just have the Prime Minister’s ear, but that he’s also usurped Nick’s place curled up at the foot of David’s bed,” the insider reveals. “He’s tried everything to try and regain David’s favour – the other week he even walked into a Cabinet meeting carrying a dead rat in his mouth, and dropped it at the Prime Minister’s feet. The trouble was that Larry had already brought him three birds, two mice, a draft of a key note speech on immigration, a white paper on health care reform.”

It has been widely rumoured in Fleet Street that Clegg has already resorted to dirty tricks to in an attempt to rid himself of his rival. “Allegedly, he tried to lure Larry into a sack using an opened tin of sardines,” explains Sniffer. “When he thought he had him, Clegg tied up the mouth of the sack and threw it into the Thames. You can imagine his shock when he returned to Downing Street only to find Larry sitting at the head of the cabinet room table, cleaning himself.” It turned out that Clegg had actually captured fellow Liberal Democrat minister Vince Cable. “The poor old duffer was just looking for somewhere warm to have a kip – ever since he lost most of his ministerial responsibilities and his office following the Murdoch debacle, he just aimlessly wanders the corridors of power,” says the reporter. “He couldn’t believe his luck when he found the sardines in the sack – it was the first square meal he’d had in days. Luckily, he managed to get out the sack after it went in the river and swam to safety. The old codger went down with a nasty bout of pneumonia, mind.”

Larry is already being spoken of as a possible future Tory leader, with rumours rife that he will be parachuted into a ‘safe seat’ at the next general election. However, political commentator Neil Spudgeon isn’t surprised by his success. “The cat is a natural Conservative – vain, arrogant, entirely self-centred, utterly unscrupulous and prepared to intimidate defenceless small rodents and birds for pleasure,” opines Spudgeon, senior lecturer in politics at the Walthamstow Pet Care College. “It’s no surprise that Cameron, for whom image is clearly everything, should be entranced by this feline: cats are expert at putting up a front of smooth elegance, when, in reality, they are flea ridden pests who shed fur on your furniture and cough up fur balls on the kitchen floor.” Despite Larry’s early successes, the Labour leadership is confident that they have a long term strategy for dealing with the political pussy. “String,” says Labour Party strategist Wally Fork. “Cats are easily distracted by string. We’re planning to trail a piece of string across the floor in front of Larry during the televised leadership debates at the next general election, so that he’ll dash off chasing it before he can answer any questions on the economy.”

It is also rumoured that Ed Miliband’s spin doctors have suggested several other, even more underhand, strategies for neutralising Larry, including bribing him with a crate of fish, and framing him for the killing of one of the Queen’s swans. Whilst denying that such plans have ever been discussed, Fork concedes that the latter scheme would be quite easy to implement. “All it would take would be a trail of blood and feathers leading to his cat basket,” he muses. “Then all you’d have to do would be to plant a severed swan leg and a bill in the basket and stick some white feathers around his mouth while he’s asleep. That’d get the little bastard kicked out of Downing Street for sure. Either that, or whacked with a rolled up newspaper.” In the meantime, the Tories are still basking in the reflected glow of Larry’s success. “That cat’s been a Godsend – thanks to him we’ve finally been able to scotch those rumours about William Hague’s sexuality,” an insider reveals. “Ever since we staged that photo opportunity of him smoothing Larry we’ve been able to say, in all honesty, that William Hague loves pussy.”