A leaked report from the Government Stationery Office suggests politicians returned to Westminster after the election to face a crippling doodling crisis.
The six-week election period saw an unprecedented demand for backs of envelopes as political parties competed to produce the most eye-catching manifesto promises.
“The election was like a black-hole!” says a senior Whitehall source. “Every scrap of paper blowing around Westminster got covered on both sides with a mass of undeliverable promises before disappearing, into the Vortex of Implausibility that appeared in the foyer of the Palace of Westminster, shortly after the Queen got back in her car.
“Essentially, backs of envelopes have become an endangered species in Britain. Of course, we know that Brussels are sitting on a backs-of-envelopes mountain, but we can hardly expect any help from that quarter.”
Rumours bouncing around Whitehall suggest that the prime minister’s cabinet reshuffle has been delayed until the reverse of an envelope can be found on which he can scribble some names.
However, with Number 10 anticipating a bumper sack of Christmas cards from the northern constituencies this year, insiders say we could see Chris Grayling reinstated as Minister with Empty Portfolio as early as January.
Even with this seasonal boost, and the possibility that Boris Johnson’s children will each send their absent father a card, our source is not optimistic that Christmas will provide a long term solution to the crisis.
“The only question now is whether things will settle down and we can replenish our stationery cupboards, or whether we have passed a tipping point beyond which the urge to make mindless and ever more preposterous pledges becomes unstoppable. One suspects the latter.”