As London braces itself for a flood of West Country proportions, the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government is to save the capital from the deluge by volunteering to be floated down Britain's most well known river as a one-man Thames Barrier.
Speaking straight after an emergency COBRA meeting, Environment Secretary Owen Paterson revealed that all departments recognised the need to atone for the their failure to deal with the eccentricities of the English weather. 'The enemy is at the gate, and just as the Muscovites burned their city rather than let it fall into the hands of Napoleon, we will deny London to this soggy tyrant by wedging Eric Pickles in Father Thames' gullet, somewhere around Staines.'
Despite rumours of a rift between the pair, Paterson was quick to praise Pickles' 'resolute action': 'I would like to pay tribute to my colleague's brave decision. It took only a unanimous vote from his peers to persuade him to take this step - we didn't even have to go with plan B and conduct a public phone-in poll. Truly a selfless move on his part.'
Despite a warning from environmental experts that damming the river upstream from the Thames Gateway could see most of Berkshire and Surrey turned into a massive inland sea, the government remains resolute. 'This shows beyond a doubt that we are truly sorry for our mistakes,' said the Prime Minister, speaking from a newly opened refugee camp on the Devonshire border.'
'We must take the blame for the failure to budget for adequate river dredging, the property developers who have made a fortune building on floodplains and those who insist on moving to places called Sea View, Riverside Terrace and Crumbling Cliff Crescent and are then shocked when their carpets get wet. If sending Pickles up the river will assuage public anger then it's a small price to pay.'