Government ministers have wriggled out of attending Euro 2012 by 'protesting' about Ukraine's jailing of former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko, according to a secret recording of a Cabinet meeting.
Officially, ministers will not travel to Ukraine – co-host of the European football championships – in protest at the imprisonment of Tymoshenko for the crime of dressing like an extra from The Sound of Music instead of adopting the regulation Eastern European woman's uniform of a low-cut top and shocking pink lipstick.
But the UK government's apparent act of solidarity is in fact a cover for ministers' reluctance to pretend to enjoy watching football while squeezed against thousands of drunk England fans draped in flags, wearing jester hats and with their faces smeared with red and white paint.
The secret tape reveals that, in the run-up to this month's tournament, ministers have been frantically looking for excuses not to attend.
Options discussed included having the entire cabinet join the Olympic torch relay, volunteering to attend additional sessions at the Leveson Inquiry and "just helping to tidy up a bit" after the Diamond Jubilee celebrations.
Michael Gove gave David Cameron a note from his mum excusing him from games, while Theresa May admitted that she thought Euro 2012 took place last weekend and is heard to ask: "So what were all the flags for, then?"
Most shocking of all, the recording reveals that last month Cameron had been on the verge of creating a fictional by election to re-elect former MP David Mellor because he was "the only Tory in living memory who actually enjoyed football".
The thought of being forced to travel to Ukraine has brought some ministers to the brink of breakdown, with a weeping Chancellor George Osborne clearly audible on the recording. "I'm already pretending to eat pasties in a static caravan; I can't take any more chavvyness," he sobbed. "What's next? Darts and ferret racing?"
Commenting on the boycott, Ukraine's ambassador to the UK said: "We are not too concerned at this stage as we are expecting that Cameron will follow his usual pattern and shortly announce a U-turn. Oh, wait, yes, here it comes…"