Apparently, Balls did indeed clear his diary in those fateful last couple of weeks to sign off the white paper. My source tells me that the minister called his senior civil servants together and told them he was "leaving" [to become Chancellor]. "He didn't allow the faintest hint of doubt," the source says.
"His civil servants had been trying to get him to actually pay it his full attention for months and the list of things needing his attention had grown and grown.
"EB wanted to make sure it was 'his' white paper so spent quite a bit of time over those last few days he had in the DCSF, clearing some of the radical stuff that had been prepared (both by DCSF officials and by the PMSU) and rejecting other bits because they would harm his chances of being seen as a 'Labour man' by the union types he has been cosying up to.
"Anyway, what really pisses me off is that I didn't see his face when he had to tell the PermSec that he wasn't going anywhere after all." Balls' people are still denying the whole thing (naturally), but the evidence is certainly mounting against him. If it is true, I imagine Paul's source won't be the only one wishing they could have seen Balls' face when he had to admit the move to the Treasury had been cancelled.