Disillusioned Labour MPs would make a "disastrous" move if they split from the party, Ed Balls has warned. The ex-shadow chancellor urged his former colleagues to "stay and fight" if Jeremy Corbyn retains the Labour leadership on 24 September.

"To walk away from challenges is a mistake," Balls told BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning (1 September).

"You've got to stay around the table, whether that's in Europe, whether that's you're a minister, you've got to stay and prove you can make the change.

"I think people would think it would be crazy for people to walk away from Labour's history, traditions and values.

"I say stay in and continue to fight to make the Labour Party the voice of the working people of our country."

Balls, who lost his Morley and Outwood seat to the Conservatives at the general election, made the comments after a YouGov poll for The Times suggested Corbyn was set for a landslide victory against Owen Smith.

The survey, of more than 1,200 Labour members between 25 and 29 August, put Corbyn on 62% and the former shadow work and pensions secretary on 38%. The leadership election was triggered after the EU referendum, which saw the UK vote to leave the political economic union.

Labour MPs criticised Corbyn's performance during the campaign, with the left-winger facing mass resignations from his shadow cabinet and a vote of "no confidence" from 172 Labour MPs.

Balls, meanwhile, is taking part in BBC One's hit entertainment show Strictly Come Dancing, while "juggling" his training with his day job as chairman of Championship football club Norwich City.

He admitted Labour failed to win over centre-ground voters during the general election campaign, but denied former leader Ed Miliband – who contacted him just twice during the campaign – was "too left-wing".

"The electorate decided we weren't ready to be in government and that's a choice we have to accept," Balls said.

"They did so because, in the end when it came to crunch, and I think elections come down to this: the centre-ground vote have to decide whether they take the risk on change and they decided with us the risk was too great."

As for a return to party politics, Balls concluded: "We're see what happens in the future."

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Key dates of Labour's leadership election

  • 18 July: Signing up as a registered supporter to vote in the election begins.
  • 19 - 20 July: Number of MP nominations for each candidate published.
  • 20 July: Deadline for people to sign up as a registered supporter closes.
  • 22 August: Ballot papers begin to be sent out around the UK, but to Labour Party members only.
  • 21 September: Deadline for ballot papers to be returned is midday.
  • 24 September: The election result will be announced at a Leadership Conference in Liverpool.