Labour man goes Euro-sceptic

And the prize for political opportunist of the week goes to Ed Balls. Speaking at the ICAEW annual conference on Monday – though readers of the FT were already in the know as the pink ‘un was by remarkable coincidence both event sponsor and the paper chosen for a pre-briefing – he launched a national crusade against lax accounting by Brussels.

Balls said the NAO would attest to the veracity of UK government spending of EU money. All very sensible. And good luck to the minister. Nevertheless it struck us as remarkably similar to comments made by EC chief accountant Brian Gray 12 months ago. Gray said the only way the EC would ever get a clean audit would be for national finance ministers to sign off the accounts.

TS detects the black art of political negotiations, the kind that end with: ‘No, I insist, minister. You take the credit.’

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