BRITAIN would be significantly better off if Gordon Brown had been on prescription painkillers for the last few years, it was claimed last night.
As the prime minister was forced to deny rumours about his health, taxpayers said they failed to see how being governed by a man with an insatiable appetite for happy pills could possibly have made things any worse.
Tom Logan, a former sales executive from Finsbury Park, said: "If only Gordon Brown had devoted the last 12 years to sourcing painkillers and then guzzling them down like Smarties, the chances are he would not have had the time or energy to completely ruin my life."
He added: "And if he had been a raging drug addict then at least he would have had a valid excuse for all the lying and stealing, instead of just being a thief."
Margaret Gerving, a retired headmistress from Surrey, said: "As a former painkiller addict I would say to the prime minister, 'try and get your hands on some of those little blue ones. You'll feel like you are floating on a sea of jam and the sex is fantastic'."
Gossip about the prime minister has been swirling around Westminster for weeks, including a persistent rumour that he can no longer see where he is going because he insists on walking around with a wastepaper basket on his head.
Another suggests Mr Brown believes he is a man inside a chicken suit inside a Gordon Brown suit, while London dinner parties are buzzing with claims that the prime minister is, once again, convinced he is Spiderman.
But yesterday the people at Westminster finally decided to let everyone else in on it as the BBC's Andrew Marr asked Mr Brown: "A lot of people in this country like to remove their trousers and underpants and then rub their bare bottoms along the carpet. Are you one of those people?"
A clearly uncomfortable Mr Brown dismissed the accusation, adding: "That's not the sort of question you should ask someone with a strange sixth sense who can scale tall buildings and fire sticky webbing from his wrists."
Meanwhile Lord Mandelson has hinted he may be willing to work for a future Conservative government in an unofficial role such as yacht wrangler, mole strangler or top secret deputy prime minister.
A friend of the business secretary said: "Peter has to have a title because without one he quickly reverts to being a long, perfectly manicured streak of absolutely fuck all."