Cooper, Yvette


Yvette Cooper is the current Shadow Home Secretary, and Labour MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, having first been elected as part of Labour’s landslide victory in 1997.

Previously a very safe-seat, at the 2019 election Cooper only won with a 1,276 majority-making the seat appear something of a marginal constituency. Throughout her time in Parliament, Cooper has been an important voice on the soft-left of the Labour Party. She held Cabinet posts in Gordon Brown’s government and was previously the head of the influential Commons Home Affairs Select Committee.

Cooper has been a member of the Labour Party since she was a teenager

Yvette Cooper

Yvette Cooper is married to fellow former Labour Cabinet Minister, Ed Balls.

Who is Yvettte Cooper married to?

Cooper is married to former Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls.  In the first quarter of 2022, YouGov ranked Ed Balls as the second most popular politician in Britain, despite him having quit frontline politics some 7 years earlier.

Ed Balls and Yvette Cooper first met in the mid 1990s.  Their romance was said to have begun when the pair were respectively working for Gordon Brown and Harriet Harman in the shadow treasury team.

Later under Gordon Brown, Cooper and Balls were the first ever husband and wife to sit in the cabinet together. The couple have three children.

In an interview Balls described Cooper as “extremely untidy” being quoted, saying, “Today I have picked up three towels from her shower, cleared up her lunch, the stuff she brought home from work and moved 14 bags, one for each of the last 14 times she walked into the hall”.

Yvette Cooper – Things you may not know

Her father was a Trade Union leader
Yvette Cooper’s father, Tony Cooper, once served as the Joint General Secretary of the trade union ‘Prospect’.

Andrew Marr attended her wedding to Ed Balls
Andrew Marr, the former BBC political editor and current host of the Andrew Marr Show on BBC 1, attended Cooper’s and Ed Balls’ wedding. Marr was Cooper’s former boss at the ‘Independent’ – Marr was editor and Cooper was an economics correspondent.

She had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome for a year in her 20s
In her 20s, Cooper suffered from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) and had to take a year out of work because of the condition.

She worked for Bill Clinton’s campaign to become American President
As a student studying at Yale, Cooper volunteered for Bill Clinton’s 1992 campaign in Arkansas. Cooper remembers seeing Clinton in an ‘I’m backing Hillary’s husband’ badge- Cooper has jokingly used this to explain her and Ed Balls’ similar relationship.

Political Career

After working as a political adviser to former Labour Leader John Smith, and then to Harriet Harman, Cooper entered Parliament herself at the 1997 election.

Having held junior government roles under Tony Blair, Cooper was promoted under Gordon Brown to become Chief Secretary to the Treasury in 2008. From 2009 to Labour’s 2010 General Election loss, Cooper was Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

Under Ed Miliband, Cooper served as shadow Foreign Secretary from 2010 to 2011 and shadow Home Secretary from 2011 to 2015.

After declining to stand in the 2010 Labour leadership election, Cooper threw her hat in the ring for the 2015 contest. As part of her campaign, Cooper made a commitment to restore the old Brown-Blair target to end child poverty by 2020. Cooper ultimately lost out to Jeremy Corbyn who she had been immensely critical of during the campaign.

After his election, Cooper remained something of a Corbyn critic from the back-benches.

In 2016, Labour’s Yvette Cooper was elected Chair of the influential Home Affairs Select Committee, a post she held for three years.

In November 2021, Yvette Cooper returned to the Shadow Cabinet for her second stint as Shadow Home Secretary, the post she previously held under Ed Miliband,

Cooper was a prominent opponent of Brexit both before and after the referendum. In April 2019, Cooper tabled a Private Members Bill which proposed making a no deal Brexit, effectively, illegal. MP’s voted 312 to 311 in favour the legislation and it received Royal Assent on 8 April 2019.

Early Career

Born in Inverness in 1969, Yvette studied at Oxford, Harvard and The LSE.

Yvette Cooper and Keir Starmer

A figure of the Labour Party’s soft-left, Cooper backed Keir Starmer in the 2019 Labour leadership election.

Commenting on her choice, Cooper said: ‘I have always argued it’s time we had a Labour woman leader [but] … I nominated Keir Starmer and Angela Rayner because I think they are the best people to get us out of the hole that we’re in’.

Following a tricky set of results for Labour in the 2021 local elections, speculation resurfaced that Yvette Cooper might one day be a potential candidate for the Labour leadership.   Cooper has been careful not to publicly rule out the idea.   Regarded as an effective media performer, Starmer brought her back to frontline Labour politics in late 2021.

Further Information

Twitter – @YvetteCooperMP

Personal website –

Yvette Cooper blasts home secretary for ‘incompetence’