Essex: Braintree MP Brooks Newmark supports rival Ed Balls after speech struggle
09:00 08 December 2012
LABOUR’S shadow chancellor Ed Balls has received support from an unlikely source – Conservative Essex MP Brooks Newmark.
The Tory, who represents Braintree, put his political differences aside to back Mr Balls after he struggled during a debate in parliament this week.
Mr Balls, who was responding to chancellor George Osborne’s Autumn Statement, later admitted his unconvincing performance was down to a stammer.
Mr Newmark said on social networking site Twitter: “While I may have my political differences with Ed Balls I agree with him on his stammer problem, which afflicts me too.
“Very random when it hits.”
He later told the EADT: “It’s something people don’t talk about and when I heard Ed talking about it I thought I should show him some moral support.
“I think it’s important people with public profile talk about these issues.”
Mr Balls, later speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, said: “Everybody with me knows that I have a stammer.
“Sometimes that stammer gets the better of me in the first minute or two when I speak, especially when I have got the Prime Minister, the Chancellor and 300 Conservative MPs yelling at me at the top of their voices.
“But frankly that is who I am. I don’t mind that.”
Norbert Lieckfeldt, chief executive of The British Stammering Association, said the issue had been a good opportunity to educate people about the impediment.
He added: “Ed is our patron and he’s decided to be open about stammering, he doesn’t have to be. He’s a role model for us.
“He clearly is not an unimpressive performer and neither are other people that stammered like Nye Bevan.”