Ed Balls made Shadow Chancellor a week after ruling reshuffle out

HAROLD WILSON famously said a week is a long time in politics and this proved true for Ed Balls after he was made Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer just days after telling the Ham&High there would not be a cabinet reshuffle.

There had been increasing speculation about whether Alan Johnson was suited to the job of Shadow Chancellor after he made several gaffes over economic and tax policies in recent weeks. In one interview he appeared not to know the rate of National Insurance paid by employers.

When the Ham&High interviewed Mr Balls about this last Thursday he said it was “very unlikely” there would be a reshuffle and that he was committed to his role as Shadow Home Secretary.

“I think it’s very unlikely there will be a re-shuffle,” Mr Balls said.

“I think that what the Government is doing to policing is one of the most striking things because people expect Tories to raise VAT and I’m afraid they expect the Liberal Democrats to break promises. But they don’t really expect Conservative governments to cut 20,000 police officers so I’ve got a big job as Shadow Home Secretary,” he told the Ham&High.

“Issues such as counter-policing and terrorism are really important. Being responsible and unified is also very important for a party of Government and that’s what I’m going to do.”

Yesterday, however, Mr Balls was appointed as Shadow Chancellor after Mr Johnson quit frontline politics to cope with turmoil in his personal life.

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A Scotland Yard police protection officer - understood to be Mr Johnson’s former bodyguard - was facing disciplinary action amid allegations that he had an affair with Mr Johnson’s wife Laura.

Mr Johnson is said to have told Labour Leader Ed Miliband on Monday that problems in his personal life were preventing him from doing his job and he resigned yesterday.

Mr Balls was promoted to Shadow Home Secretary after having a “lengthy” telephone conversation with Mr Miliband last night. His wife, Yvette Cooper has been made Home Secretary.

Mr Johnson will now serve as backbench Labour MP for Hull West.