12/02/2016 11:42 GMT | Updated 12/02/2016 11:59 GMT

5 Reasons Why British Politics Is Poorer Without Ed Balls

Chris Ison/PA Archive
Ed Balls on the pitch after stumbling during the MPs vs lobby journalists football match

Ed Balls is back in the political news today after making an intervention over the in-out EU referendum - urging parties to put aside their differences and campaign against “Brexit”.

His thinly-veiled swipe at Boris Johnson, for toying with wanting to leave the union to further his political ambitions, was a rare foray into British politics since losing his seat as an MP six months ago.

Many thought UK politics was losing a “big beast” and one of the most influential politicians of his generation. But he was so much more. Here are five reasons why British politics is a poorer place without him.

1. Prime Minister's Questions

Time was there was only one reason to bother turning on the TV at 12pm on Wednesday. Prime Minister’s Questions was in the Ed Miliband era a more confrontational affair for David Cameron than under Jeremy “Crowdsource” Corbyn.

And yet Ed Balls managed to be the centre of attention without (at least to the TV cameras) uttering a word, and made goading an art form. Sat to the right of his leader, the then Shadow Chancellor would chunter at Cameron and his opposite number, George Osborne, ad nauseum. It got the stage where Cameron labelled him the “most annoying person in modern politics.”.

Balls 1, Cameron 0.

2. Peerless photoshoots

Few politicians have been quite so willing to play to camera with such gusto.

Photo gallery Ed Balls: Social Chameleon See Gallery

3. His football skills

Ed Balls playing football versus journalists was the most prized photograph of the party conference season. And he seldom failed to deliver, having variously elbowed an opponent in the face, been drawn into a penalty “diving” controversy or merely shown off his “tekkers”.

Photo gallery Ed Balls: Footballer See Gallery

4. Great copy

After Mumsnet rated him among the Commons' best lovers, LBC Radio suggested his style “starts well but you slightly fade away”. Balls replied: “No, long slow burn.”

5. His Twitter game

How many other politicians have their own “day”, now a beloved Twitter tradition?