Mystery over Ed Balls’s claim that the Miliband brothers are briefing against one another

Difference between accounts in Total Politics and the Sun.

Earlier, I mentioned that Ed Balls had accused David and Ed Miliband of briefing against each other, saying:

Between the brothers there has been a little bit of off-the-record briefing going on. Hopefully, the two of them will say to their supporters to stop it. It is pretty unedifying.

Now, it appears there is something of a mystery surrounding the fascinating interview, which is by Amber Elliott, political editor of Total Politics. The piece is officially under embargo until tomorrow, so I won't reproduce it here (I have read it, though, and I recommend that others do so when it's out).

However, the Sun received some of the words from the interview in advance, and reported it thus today:

THE Miliband brothers are waging a bitching war against each other as they battle for the Labour leadership, another rival has revealed.

Ed Miliband's supporters have been slagging off his brother David's "eccentric personality".

And David's fans are mocking Ed's "dodgy decision-making", according to former Education Secretary Ed Balls, who is also in the running.

In a plea to the other candidates to keep it clean, Mr Balls told Total Politics magazine: "Between the brothers there has been a little bit of off-the-record briefing going on.

"Hopefully, the two of them will say to their supporters to stop it. I think it is pretty unedifying."

Seizing the moral high ground, he added: "There will be no off-the-record briefings from anybody involved with me." His revelation is likely to provoke fury among rank-and-file party members. Labour's 13 years in power were plagued by cabinet ministers feuding behind the scenes -- speeding its downfall at the polls last month.

What is odd is that the "dodgy decision-making" and "eccentric personality" lines are not in the text of Elliott's piece. So, where did they come from? A source close to Ed Balls is adamant that they did not come from him. Perhaps the paper can explain.

James Macintyre is political correspondent for the New Statesman.
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The Brexit elite want to make trade great again – but there’s a catch

The most likely trade partners will want something in return. And it could be awkward. 

Make trade great again! That's an often overlooked priority of Britain's Brexit elite, who believe that by freeing the United Kingdom from the desiccated hand of the European bureaucracy they can strike trade deals with the rest of the world.

That's why Liam Fox, the Trade Secretary, is feeling particularly proud of himself this morning, and has written an article for the Telegraph about all the deals that he is doing the preparatory work for. "Britain embarks on trade crusade" is that paper's splash.

The informal talks involve Norway, New Zealand, and the Gulf Cooperation Council, a political and economic alliance of Middle Eastern countries, including Kuwait, the UAE and our friends the Saudis.

Elsewhere, much symbolic importance has been added to a quick deal with the United States, with Theresa May saying that we were "front of the queue" with President-Elect Donald Trump in her speech this week. 

As far as Trump is concerned, the incoming administration seems to see it differently: Wilbur Ross, his Commerce Secretary, yesterday told Congress that the first priority is to re-negotiate the Nafta deal with their nearest neighbours, Canada and Mexico.

In terms of judging whether or not Brexit is a success or not, let's be clear: if the metric for success is striking a trade deal with a Trump administration that believes that every trade deal the United States has struck has been too good on the other party to the deal, Brexit will be a failure.

There is much more potential for a genuine post-Brexit deal with the other nations of the English-speaking world. But there's something to watch here, too: there is plenty of scope for trade deals with the emerging powers in the Brics - Brazil, India, etc. etc.

But what there isn't is scope for a deal that won't involve the handing out of many more visas to those countries, particularly India, than we do currently.

Downing Street sees the success of Brexit on hinging on trade and immigration. But political success on the latter may hobble any hope of making a decent go of the former. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.