Theresa May succeeds David Cameron, as Britain – and an official cat – look on

Weeks after the Brexit, former British Prime Minister David Cameron has spent the day in Parliament and at Buckingham Palace, ceding his position to Theresa May.

Peter Nicholls/Reuters
Britain's new prime minister, Theresa May, and husband Philip, pose for the media outside number 10 Downing Street, in central London on July 13, 2016.

It must have been a confusing day at 10 Downing Street for Larry the Cat, “The Chief Mouser” of the official residence of the British prime minister.

In the morning, then-Prime Minister David Cameron stepped out on his way to a session of Prime Minister’s Questions in Parliament, where he was joined by his wife and three children. He returned home in the afternoon and gave a speech to hordes of media and onlookers outside the residence’s iconic black door before departing again, this time for Buckingham Palace.

Then, less than an hour later, a new prime minister, former Home Secretary Theresa May arrived, gave her own remarks outside No. 10, and stepped through the threshold of her new home as the second female prime minister in British history. Her presence, with husband Phillip, prompted Larry the Cat to weigh in on his unofficial Twitter account:

The back narrative to the day’s events, tweeted through the cat-at-large's perspective, and a national conversation about whether he will remain at 10 Downing, has been a source of levity amid a transfer of power that seemed like only a vague possibility less than one month ago.

Mr. Cameron's decision to step down comes on the heels – and very much because – of the Brexit vote, which he initiated despite his vocal support for remaining in the EU. Cameron had stated his plans to resign after the country voted against his recommendations, but it wasn't initially apparent how soon he would depart. He announced Monday that he would leave office today, after it became clear that Theresa May would be the member of his Conservative party to succeed him.

While the Brexit vote was an unprecedented political situation and the end to Cameron’s career abrupt, the transfer of power retained vestiges of tradition.

Cameron was put through a final Prime Minister Questions session, where he kept the tone light amidst some criticism, including over the rise in food banks or his part in calling the vote that ended up with Brexit. He offered something of a political philosophy, saying, “I believe that politics is about public service in the national interest” and quelled rumors that he does not like Larry the Cat, rebutting with a resounding: “I do!” and holding up a photo of himself sitting on an armchair with Larry on his lap. Technically, Larry belongs on the house and its staff, Cameron explained, saying he had to leave the Mouser behind.

Later in the afternoon he tendered his formal resignation to Queen Elizabeth II, who then had an audience with Theresa May, inviting her to form a new government.

This evening, Theresa May has been moving quickly to do just that.

Ms. May opened her term as leader with statements calling for equality and unity, as she spoke outside 10 Downing Street:

"We won't entrench advantages of the fortunate few. We will do everything to help you go as far as your talents can take you. We must fight the burning injustices. We must make Britain a country that works for everyone,” she said. “We believe in a union not just between the nations of the UK but between all of our citizens – every one of us.”

In her first hours settling into her new role and new home, she made several key cabinet appointments, the Telegraph reports: replacing George Osborne with Philip Hammond as Chancellor of the Exchequer, appointing David Davis to a new position as Brexit Secretary, and notably inviting leading Brexit advocate and former London mayor Boris Johnson to be foreign secretary.

The latter choice did not occur without notice from Larry the Cat, who shared his thoughts on Twitter: 

This report includes material from the Associated Press.

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