Ed Balls is studying for his maths A-level 40 years after leaving school, he has revealed.
The former shadow chancellor admitted on Good Morning Britain that he was finding it “really hard” but was determined to get the qualification.
He said he was being taught by the mother of his wife, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper.
The former Labour big-hitter made the surprise admission as Rishi Sunak unveiled his plan to force all pupils in England to learn maths until they are 18.
Balls, who was economic adviser to the Treasury before becoming a Labour MP in 2005, said: “I did GCSE, actually I did additional maths at O-level, back in the 1980s. I never did A-level maths.
″I did economics all the way through to two years at graduate school, lots of economics maths, but I never did A-level maths and I’ve always regretted it.
″So before Christmas I decided ‘do something new’. I’m learning the piano, I learned to sail. So I’m actually doing A-level maths, taught by my mother-in-law, who is a brilliant maths teacher.”
Balls said he was finding it “really hard” but he hoped to sit the exam in two years.
“I will be turning up at some college to sit in desks with a bunch of 18-year-olds doing my A-level maths,” he added.
Co-presenter Susanna Reid told him: “I think I’m having a panic attack just thinking about it. It’s like an anxiety dream.”
Sunak said he wanted to challenge the “anti-maths mindset” in this country and encourage people to see numeracy as “a key skill every bit as essential as reading”.
But critics pointed out that the government was already struggling to recruit enough maths teachers, so providing extra lessons for all pupils may prove impossible.