Mary Portas’ awkward train encounter with Ed Balls

Mary Portas' awkward train encounter with Ed Balls
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When the Conservatives won a surprise majority in the election, many businesses breathed a collective sigh of relief that the two Eds would not have a chance to implement their 'anti-business' policies. Retail expert Mary Portas appeared to express her own personal relief when she appeared at Hay this week to discuss her memoir.

Portas, who was appointed by David Cameron to head a review into Britain's high streets, recalled an awkward encounter she had with Ed Balls on a train:

'I saw Ed Balls on the train once and he was so pleased that he’d negotiated a mammogram centre in an Asda in his constituency. I thought ‘quelle horreur’. Can you imagine getting your boobs out after just buying a packet of Asda ham?'

Happily, Balls now has plenty of time to admire his work at Asda given that he is no longer an MP. Meanwhile Portas has been cheered even more by the latest cabinet shuffle which saw Greg Clark replace Sir Eric Pickles as the new Communities and Local Government minister. 'The problem is with working with government is that you have to deal with all the little departments,' she sighed. 'I’m expecting a lot from Greg Clark, but he doesn’t know it yet.'

That sounds a bit like a threat.

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from London and beyond. Email tips to

Topics in this articlePoliticsed ballseric pickles