TV debates: George Osborne handshake with Ed Balls in apparent agreement to televised clash

Mr Balls sprang his ambush when the two men were sitting together at the end of BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show

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Indy Politics

Chancellor George Osborne shook hands today over appearing in a televised election debate with Ed Balls after he was caught off guard by his opposite number.

Mr Balls sprang his ambush when the two men were sitting together at the end of BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show.

The Chancellor shook Mr Balls’s hand in apparent agreement to the televised clash, but then suggested his Liberal Democrat deputy, Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, should also take part.

Asked whether he was interested in a debate, Mr Balls said: “Of course, and I would like to go further. George and I don’t need the broadcasters to sort these things out.

“George is not a coward. David Cameron doesn’t want a head-to-head with Ed Miliband but I’m very happy – I will have a head-to-head debate, just the two of us, the potential Chancellors during the election campaign.”

He challenged Mr Osborne: “You can say now – are you up for it?”

The Chancellor replied: “As I say, happy to have this Chancellors’ debate, just as we did in the last election.”

Mr Balls pressed him: “Come on George, let’s go for it.”

Mr Osborne reiterated: “I’m happy to meet you in a debate.”

Offering his hand, the shadow Chancellor said: “We should shake on it and go for it.”

Mr Osborne appeared reluctant but shook his opponent’s hand before adding: “We are going to see who else wants to be part of that. I've got a very effective Chief Secretary, who I think would also want to be part of that debate.”

He added: “I think we should include Danny Alexander.”

Mr Balls countered: “No, one-to-one - we just shook on it.”

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