It would surely take a very sticky situation to force David Cameron to leave a formal dinner and hot foot it back to the House of Commons wearing white tie to vote. Yet that’s exactly what Labour’s Yvette Cooper achieved on Monday by calling a rare and unusual division in the Commons, prompting the PM to dash back, dickie bow and all.
As a result, tongues are wagging. Was Cooper’s display in the Commons during the European arrest warrant debacle an ingenious political plot or just opportunistic politics? Fans of House of Cards will, of course, know the difference. One puts Cooper in the running to be the next Labour leader, the latter simply makes her a talented political operator (a skill, nonetheless).
Nobody can argue with her principles. Despite a confused and angry session, Cooper rallied her MPs to back the 11 EU measures which passed the Commons vote. But not before very nearly scuppering the whole thing with a well-timed division to derail the process and force May into scheduling a new debate on the arrest warrant, left out of original proceedings. This is what had the Prime Minister running back before the port course.
Cooper’s name has been touted as a future leader before, and there is no denying her skill on the floor of the House. But she, like Ed Miliband and Ed Balls, is tainted by her record in the previous Labour government, particularly in the Treasury. If she can shake that and delicately oust Miliband, she could be just what the party needs to succeed in 2015. But that’s a big if.