Ed Balls prepares for his latest political shuffle

Written by Tom Smithard on 2 August 2016 in Diary

The former shadow chancellor is set to take to our small screens this autumn as a contestant on Strictly Come Dancing.

His wife has described it as a “terrifying thought” – but it looks like Ed Balls really will be putting on his dancing shoes for the next series of Strictly Come Dancing.

The former shadow chancellor, one of the highest profile victims of last year’s Conservative election victory, will go from allegations of being too left wing to allegations of having two left feet on the show.

The 49-year-old is known for his dad dancing at Labour conferences – see here for video proof – but will rely on the competitive spirit he’s shown in football matches against the political lobby to get him through.

Balls has also run three marathons and learned to play the piano while on the Labour frontbench, as well as becoming chairman of Norwich City FC and turning his hand to writing about cooking since rejection by the voters of Morley & Outwood.

After the election result his wife Yvette Cooper joked: “Somebody said maybe he should go and do Strictly Come Dancing - which is a terrifying thought.”

But today Labour colleagues reacted with glee at the thought of their erstwhile economic chief taking up the tango in the autumn.

Lucy Powell wrote: “Exciting news that @edballs will be on this year's #Strictly I hope your level of competitiveness can match your ability Ed!”

Heidi Alexander said: “I know it's not the most important thing in life but if it's true, I am SO looking forward to @edballs on Strictly. @YvetteCooperMP :-)”

While Jess Philips also took to Twitter to say: “I fully expect to be in the audience cheering @edballs on hint hint @bbcstrictly I will wear a t-shirt emblazoned "Ed Balls Ed Balls."

Ladbrokes promptly installed Balls as 100/1 to win Strictly – if he does manage it he will have beaten the records of Ann Widdecombe and Edwina Currie, fellow politicos who have appeared on the show.

Vince Cable also performed for the Strictly judges during his stint as business secretary – but only on a Christmas special.

One source told the Daily Mirror last night: “Ed has got some moves. Seriously. He might do rather well.”

But a year ago Balls himself was not so sure, telling the BBC’s Nick Robinson:

“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.”

Picture by: Adam Davy/PA Archive/Press Association Images

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