Yvette Cooper has been granted an urgent question on the extremism row at 2.30 today in the Commons, focusing on the conduct of ministers within government. The Shadow Home Secretary is doing her job, making ministers uncomfortable by summoning them to the Commons to answer a question on whether they have broken the ministerial code. But it’s impressive that the row was left to spin out for long enough for Cooper to manage to make an intervention at all.
The dispute between Gove and May made Wednesday’s front pages, but it wasn’t until Saturday that Labour decided to launch its two-pronged attack from Cooper and Tristram Hunt. Cooper argued that morning that the row showed a ‘more serious failure by David Cameron’s Government to develop a joint plan to prevent extremism’, but as with many of her interventions, she’d waited to see how the row went before deciding to capitalise on it. Labour has a relatively long lead time on certain issues, including Home Affairs (this is one of the reasons some of Cooper’s colleagues are frustrated with her performance shadowing Theresa May, which is not just a tribute to the efficacy of the Home Secretary). If the tensions had been shut down earlier, Downing Street could have deprived Cooper of the opportunity to develop her line of attack.