In a statement certain to depress UK market sentiment even further, Chancellor George Osborne announced this morning that the black hole in the nation's finances was even larger than anticipated, and could only be addressed by even more radical economic steps than hitherto considered - specifically, a swingeing programme of "everyone licking my balls".
"People may grumble about these very necessary measures," Osborne explained to a subdued press conference earlier, "But the size of the economic hole dug by Labour is such that only by taking drastic steps will we have any chance of recovery. I understand that practical moves such as these will be distasteful to many, but I can assure you that citizens from every rank of society from the humblest to the most elevated will shoulder this burden equally, and have their own share of licking my balls."
Westminster sources have hinted that Prime Minister David Cameron may be uncomfortable with his Chancellor's hard-line approach and the possible political fallout of such dramatic reform. Cameron was reportedly reluctant to agree to the ball-licking scheme until it was explained to him by Osborne's Private Secretary that as Prime Minister, his balls could also expect "some serious amount of tongue".
The initial reaction from the UK’s economists was frankly sceptical. "To be honest, it’s hard to see how a big queue of people lining up to taste the Chancellor’s testicles is going to have any true positive effect on this country's macro-economy," argued Mark Wheatley, a strategic advisor for PricewaterhouseCoopers. "This is a much more continental style of economics than the UK public is used to, and for many people it will be an eye-opener to have such an intimate knowledge of the contents of the Chancellor's briefcase thrust upon them."
Vulnerable to the charge that their mismanagement of the economy is partly responsible for the economic downturn, the Labour party's response to the Chancellor's proposals has been muted. "Yes, Osborne is obviously exaggerating the UK's economic problems to push his personal agenda through," conceded Shadow Chancellor Alistair Darling, "But we have to be careful not to push him too far - we could easily end up with egg all over our faces."