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Ed Balls strictly not interested in Westminster comeback through Wakefield by-election

Former shadow chancellor Ed Balls has ruled himself out of standing as the Labour candidate in the upcoming Wakefield by-election.

Speculation had been mounting this week that the former senior Labour MP – and Strictly Come Dancing star – could be tipped for a potential Westminster comeback.

It followed a YouGov poll which found Mr Balls was the second most popular politician in the UK for the first quarter of 2022.

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It was thought the Labour Party may want to use the opportunity as a moment to bring the former shadow chancellor back to the front line in Wakefield.

But on Friday evening, Mr Balls said he would not be contesting the former Red Wall seat for Labour.

“Back from New York to find Wakefield speculation still running,” he posted on social media.

“I appreciate all the messages but for removal of any doubt, no-one’s spoken to me about it and I’ve no intention of putting myself forward when the current MP finally resigns!”

The Wakefield by-election was announced after Imran Ahmad Khan was found guilty of sexual assault and declared he would resign his seat.

Khan, who had the Conservative whip withdrawn before resigning as an MP, has declared his intention to appeal the guilty verdict.

Labour leader and shadow chancellor on the front opposition benches in February 2011

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Ed Balls was shadow chancellor from 2011 to 2015

Since losing his former Morley and Outwood seat to Conservative MP Andrea Jenkyns in the 2015 general election, Mr Balls has appeared on the BBC’s hit entertainment show Strictly Come Dancing and taken up a range of presenting roles.

This has arguably contributed to his public profile, with the YouGov survey finding 91% of those polled could identify who he was.

Labour leader Ed Miliband on a train to Luton with shadow chancellor Ed Balls in September 2011

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The former senior Labour MP had been tipped to stand as a candidate in the upcoming Wakefield by-election

Labour had this week refused to comment on any rumours about who the Wakefield Labour candidate will be.

It is not yet known when the by-election will take place, but it will come at a tumultuous time for Boris Johnson, who faces continued calls to resign over the partygate scandal.

Mary Creagh, the former Labour MP for Wakefield who lost her seat to Khan in 2019, has also ruled herself out from standing for the constituency again.