ED Balls has revealed he turned down an offer to go on ITV reality show I’m A Celebrity ... Get Me Out of Here! after he lost his seat in Parliament at the general election.
And the former shadow chancellor said he also had no desire to go back into the political jungle of Westminster, saying it was “unlikely” he would ever return to frontline politics.
Mr Balls was the Conservatives’ biggest scalp when he lost his Morley and Outwood seat in West Yorkshire to Andrea Jenkyns by a wafer-thin margin of 422 votes on May 7.
Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, he revealed that among the hundreds of messages of consolation he received after his defeat was a “very nice” text from Chancellor George Osborne - his adversary over the despatch box on countless occasions - but nothing from David Cameron.
A less welcome message came from the I’m A Celebrity team inviting him to go into the jungle and undergo the notorious trials by ordeal.
Asked if he was tempted, Mr Balls replied: “No. I wrote back to say that I’d already subjected myself to one high-profile public vote this year, and I wasn’t really sure that I wanted a second one. At least having to eat bugs and crickets wasn’t part of the election process. I’m not tough enough for that.”
He made clear he was also not tempted to return to front-rank politics after 20 years as Gordon Brown’s adviser, then an MP and Cabinet minister and then shadow chancellor on Ed Miliband’s frontbench.
“Gordon rang me and said, ‘You’ve got to get back into politics quick’,” he revealed. “I said, ‘Yeah, yeah, yeah’.
“I’m not going to the House of Lords, and I’m not planning to go back to the Commons. It’s a new chapter for me and there will be something for me outside politics.
“I really wanted to be Chancellor of the Exchequer. I don’t miss being in opposition; it’s a thankless task - not fun. There are people who like Parliament for its own sake. I’m not one of those.”
In a sign of his desire to establish some distance from politics, he revealed that he spent Budget day earlier this month on a Greek beach, taking a sailing lesson and reading a novel under a parasol.
He has also stayed clear of his wife Yvette Cooper’s campaign for the Labour leadership, though he confirmed he would give her his vote as a Labour member.
“It’s for the Labour Party to decide,” he said. “But I have a vote, and I will vote for Yvette.”