Strictly star Ed Balls can't help feeling guilty on the dance floor while politics struggle

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Former shadow chancellor and Strictly's most lovable contestant Ed Balls has described his "guilt" at being left to watch the Brexit fight from the sidelines while he dances the cha cha.

He made the comments to The Times while eating a nutritious dancer's lunch of tofu and spring rolls during a break from rehearsals at an east London dance studio.

Still feeling the pain of defeat to the Conservatives last year, the 49-year-old ex-MP, said: "The truth is I feel guilty.

"And I can't do anything about it at the moment because I'm not an MP. The country's got massive issues to face and I'm doing the chacha?

Not your usual day at the office.
Not your usual day at the office (Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

"I do feel a bit of angst and guilt about it. Is there something I could be doing to make things better?

"But you have to know when your time is. And maybe now is not my time."

But he revealed he has enjoyed being back in the public eye as a Strictly contestant, as he prepares to get ghoulish for the BBC One competition's special Halloween-themed episode on Saturday.

Ed has been using his Strictly stardom to promote good causes.
Ed has been using his Strictly stardom to promote good causes (Nick Ansell/PA)

The best part? Changing his image from fierce to fabulous - with an extra side of camp.

"Because the caricature of me was of someone who was tough, close to Gordon Brown, an enforcer, people still expect me to be quite fierce and distant. And I'm not like that at all," he said.

"I've discovered that I have this camp sense of fun, which I never realised.

"I was doing the paso doble last week and I tried really hard to make it like I was a matador. We tried to do it really seriously, but by the end all the producers were loving it and laughing saying it was the campest thing they'd ever seen."

He added that the positive attention from fans is definitely a bonus that comes with his current showbiz lifestyle, saying: "People just love the show and they love people from the show, so they just want to come up and say hello."

But, while his wife, shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper, has said how pleased she is at her hubby's dance-induced weight loss, he said watching his Strictly performances back always reminds him he is 10 years older, three stone heavier and much less graceful than he feels when he's pulling his moves on the stage.

Don't worry about that, Ed. We all think you are TOTES amaze-Balls.