Balls toughens Labour's stance on the euro

Shadow chancellor says that there is "no possibility" of Britain joining the euro "in my lifetime".

Speaking in the Commons, Ed Balls has just made the remarkable declaration that "there's no possibility anytime in my lifetime of a British government joining the euro". His statement represents a significant shift of policy by Labour, which had previously said only that it was unlikely that Britain would join the single currency in the near future. In his recent speech on the EU, Douglas Alexander, the shadow foreign secretary, said that while joining the euro "is not on Labour's agenda" there "is no need to be dogmatic on these questions", noting that "future generations of politicians may find that circumstances have changed".

But Balls, who is deservedly proud of his role in keeping the UK out of the euro, felt that an unambiguous statement was needed. Labour's policy reversal leaves the Lib Dems as the only one of the three main parties refusing to rule out euro membership.

Incidentally, for a list of prominent political figures who still support UK membership in theory, see my blog from last month, "Who still thinks Britain should join the euro?"

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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The most British thing happened when this hassled Piccadilly line worker had had enough

"I try so hard to help you Soph, so hard."

Pity the poor Piccadilly Line. Or rather, pity the poor person who runs its social media account. With the London Underground line running with delays since, well, what seems like forever, the soul behind Transport for London's official @piccadillyline account has been getting it in the neck from all quarters.

Lucky, then, that the faceless figure manning the handle seems to be a hardy and patient sort, responding calmly to tweet upon tweet bemoaning the slow trains.

But everyone has their limit, and last night, fair @piccadillyline seemed to hit theirs, asking Twitter users frustrated about the line to stop swearing at them in tones that brought a single, glittering tear to this mole's eye.

"I do my best as do the others here," our mystery hero pleaded. "We all truly sympathise with people travelling and do the best we can to help them, shouting and swearing at us does nothing to help us helping you."

After another exchange with the angry commuter, @piccadillyline eventually gave up. Their tweet could melt the coldest heart: "Okay, sorry if your tweet mixed up, I won't bother for the rest of my shift. I try so hard to help you Soph, so hard."

Being a mole, one has a natural affinity with those who labour underground, and I was saddened to see poor @piccadillyline reduced to such lows especially so close to Christmas. Luckily, some kind Londoners came to their defence, checking in on the anonymous worker and offering comfort and tea.

And shortly after, all seemed to be well again:

I'm a mole, innit.