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Balls 'won't dash back to politics'

Published 22/05/2015

Former shadow chancellor Ed Balls says he won't play a role in wife Yvette Cooper's Labour leadership campaign
Former shadow chancellor Ed Balls says he won't play a role in wife Yvette Cooper's Labour leadership campaign

Ed Balls will not be "dashing back" to frontline politics and will not play a role in his wife Yvette Cooper's Labour leadership campaign.

The former shadow chancellor, who lost his seat at Westminster at the general election, acknowledged that he and ex-leader Ed Miliband had failed to persuade people they could run the country and suggested the party should have been more "pro-business".

Mr Balls, who was defeated by 422 votes in Morley and Outwood, said he and Mr Miliband had to accept responsibility for the party's failure to win the general election.

Indicating that he would not seek to stand in a by-election, Mr Balls said: "Out of politics is how I am thinking about things at the moment."

Asked if he intended to run a think tank he added: "You never say never about anything, because who knows what is going to happen, it's only been a couple of weeks.

"But I think the reality for me now is I want to make a difference to the world outside politics, that's how I am thinking about things. I am not going to be dashing back."

Reflecting on Labour's defeat i n an interview with the BBC's political editor Nick Robinson, Mr Balls said: "Ed Miliband said straight after the election that he took full responsibility.

"But all of us have to bear our share of the responsibility. Ed was the leader, I backed him as shadow chancellor 100%.

"In the end he didn't persuade people he could be the prime minister but I didn't persuade people I could be the chancellor either. We have to take that on the chin."

Mr Balls added: "I wanted to be more pro-business. But I also backed Ed Miliband 100%. He was the leader, I was the shadow chancellor, we both worked very hard and in the end neither he nor I persuaded people and we have to take our responsibility for that."

On his own narrow defeat, Mr Balls said politics was a "brutal" business but added: "In the end, although it is hard for me, I'm a symbol of the vibrancy of our democracy."

He added: "I didn't know that I was actually going to lose my seat until the returning officer gave us the result at 7.30 in the morning, so I had hours of uncertainty.

"By the time it came to my speech, what happened in the country was a much bigger sense of sorrow to me than anything personal. That wasn't the issue for me."

Shadow home secretary Ms Cooper is standing to replace Mr Miliband as Labour leader and Mr Balls described her as "brilliant".

"I think people will have a chance to see more of what she is and what she stands for and what she can do in the coming weeks. I'm not going to play any part in her campaign, that's her campaign, they are her ideas and it's not for me.

"I have got the opportunity at the moment, at a time when there is other stuff going on in our lives and for our children, to stand back and, while she is busy, do more to help the rest of the family."

With the prospect of more free time now he is no longer an MP, Mr Balls was asked whether he would appear on Strictly Come Dancing - but questioned whether he was "equipped" for the show.

"Three marathons means I'm fit, but am I really fit enough for Strictly? When you look at it, the people who succeed on Strictly tend to be half my age and to have played international sport or been at stage school and on the stage.

"I'm not quite sure if I'm quite equipped for Strictly."

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