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Ed Balls: 'I've Never Been A Bitch And Briefed Against Colleagues'

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Ed Balls has insisted he never engaged in "snake-like politics" by briefing against fellow Labour politicians in order to advance his career, countering allegations he leaked information during the Blair-Brown years.

In part two of his interview with The Huffington Post UK published today, the shadow chancellor challenged his critics to find a single journalist who would say he had fed them information about another Labour figure.

“I’ve never been a bitch. That bitchy approach is the most second rate way to do your politics," he says, adding it is a "weak and snake-like way to do politics".

Balls says: “I can’t think of any conversations with journalists that I really regret. And I defy you to produce a political journalist who can say that, off the record, he did a briefing with me about a colleague which ever went into a newspaper."

Balls has often been accused of briefing against Labour politicians, especially on behalf of ally Gordon Brown during the Blair-Brown years of New Labour.

He says: "The people who actually within politics have a reputation as the biggest briefers are the ones who probably spend most of their time telling other people about supposedly who’s done the briefing.”

READ PART TWO: It's 'Weird' Working With His Wife

In the deeply personal interview with Mehdi Hasan, the shadow chancellor also spoke about his childhood, his family and his marriage to fellow Labour frontbencher, Yvette Cooper.

Now out of government but both still at the top of the Labour Party, Balls reveals the couple have not had a night out without their children for a decade and do not have David-and-Samantha-Cameron-style date nights. “And leave the children with the nanny?” he says dismissively. “No.”

READ PART TWO: On Wearing A Nazi Uniform

"Our view is that the times when we’re off work, we want to be with the children. It’s the sacrifice you make, we don’t go out and see out friends without each other. Friday night with the boys? That isn’t how we do it."

In the interview Balls also speaks about his relationships with other MPs across the Commons including the prime minister, who has described the shadow chancellor as “the most annoying person in modern politics”.

“I think my dad and mum, like most people in his country, are rather proud of the fact that the prime minister has said those things [about me],” Balls says.

Balls was at Oxford at the same time as Cameron, but says the two never met. “David Cameron didn’t talk to people like me and I’m afraid it’s an attitude he’s carried on for the following 25 years," he says.

What about the exclusive dining (and drinking) Bullingdon Club – did Balls try and join that, too? “I don’t think normal people at Oxford ever thought it actually existed. We all assumed it was the figment of some toff’s imagination.”

READ PART TWO:What Would Balls Like On His Tombstone?

Also:

Does he pray?: "I do but I’m not quite sure who to."

A Bruiser?: Balls also denies allegations he has a temper: "I’m not a shouter, I'm not a ranter".

Alternative Careers: He wanted to be a doctor but has “sight of blood issues”.

Favourite TV: Sees a bit of Phil Dunphy in himself, referring to the geeky father of three from Modern Family who tries desperately to be cool.

PART ONE: Dealing With Deficits, Ambitions And Milibands

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