George Osborne and Ed Balls attend the State Opening of Parliament on May 8, 2013. Photograph: Getty Images.
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Tories promote MP who ordered Osborne to apologise to Balls

New Economic Secretary Andrea Leadsom said during the 2012 Libor row: "Obviously he made a mistake and I think he should apologise to him."

Andrea Leadsom's appointment as Economic Secretary to the Treasury marks her return from political Siberia. The MP for South Northamptonshire, one of the most highly-rated of the 2010 intake, has been shunned ever since she called on George Osborne to apologise to Ed Balls for falsely accusing him of involvement in the Libor-fixing scandal. She was overlooked for promotion in last year's ministerial reshuffle and failed to make the banking inquiry panel, despite her experience at Barclays, where she was financial institutions director from 1993 to 1997.

In July 2012, at the height of the furious struggle between Osborne and Balls over Libor, she said:

Obviously he made a mistake and I think he should apologise to him.

I think it was a very valid discussion at the time about who knew what and it has now been completely squashed by Paul Tucker.

In inviting Leadsom to join his Treasury team, Osborne has shown his magnanimous side. But don't expect Balls to get that apology.

Update: It's also worth recalling the story that Leadsom told Osborne to "fuck off" when he urged her to vote against an in/out EU referendum in 2011 (yes, a lot has changed since then). When asked about the report, she replied: "We had a very polite conversation. We agreed to differ. I wouldn't speak to any colleague in the way I was reported as speaking to him."

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Italian PM Matteo Renzi resigns after referendum No vote

Europe's right-wing populists cheered the result. 

Italy's centrist Prime Minister Matteo Renzi was forced to resign late on Sunday after he lost a referendum on constitutional change.

With most ballots counted, 60 per cent of Italians voted No to change, according to the BBC. The turn out was nearly 70 per cent. 

Voters were asked whether they backed a reform to Italy's complex political system, but right-wing populists have interpreted the referendum as a wider poll on the direction of the country.

Before the result, former Ukip leader Nigel Farage tweeted: "Hope the exit polls in Italy are right. This vote looks to me to be more about the Euro than constitutional change."

The leader of France's far-right Front National, Marine Le Pen, tweeted "bravo" to her Eurosceptic "friend" Matteo Salvini, a politician who campaigned for the No vote. She described the referendum result as a "thirst for liberty". 

In his resignation speech, Renzi told reporters he took responsibility for the outcome and added "good luck to us all". 

Since gaining office in 2014, Renzi has been a reformist politician. He introduced same-sex civil unions, made employment laws more flexible and abolished small taxes, and was known by some as "Europe's last Blairite".

However, his proposed constitutional reforms divided opinion even among liberals, because of the way they removed certain checks and balances and handed increased power to the government.

 

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines.