Labour's Rosie Cooper has stood down as the MP for West Lancashire with immediate effect, triggering a by-election for later this year. Cooper has accepted a role as chair of the Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust. Other MPs may have tried to continue their ride on the Westminster gravy train in conjunction with an additional job, particularly given that Starmer's proposed ban on second jobs is non-existent and openly flouted by his frontbenchers. Cooper is clearly a more honourable member.
Already 72 years of age, Cooper had recently been re-selected for the next election, albeit she was far from approaching any sort of record for the oldest barnacle on the benches. Many MPs have served well into their 80s (and even 90s).
Like our current Prime Minister, Cooper started out as a Liberal. She represented her hometown of Liverpool as a liberal councillor from the age of 22 and became lord mayor in 1992. She unsuccessfully fought two general elections and a parliamentary by-election in the 1980s. In 1992 she fought another general election, now as a Liberal Democrat. All the seats she contested were in her native Merseyside.
She made the switch to Labour in 1999 and continued to serve on Liverpool City Council until her defeat the following year. She was selected to contest West Lancashire at the 2005 general election, a seat she has held ever since. Her majorities have fluctuated between a low of 4,343 (2010) and 11,689 (2017). Her majority is currently 8,336.
A fairly innocuous backbencher, Cooper never served on the front benches of any of her five party leaders. She was among 22 Labour MPs who opposed gay marriage in 2013 and backed Remain in 2016, although she consistently vowed to uphold the outcome and repeatedly voted against her Brexit-blocking comrades in the 2019 impasse. She backed David Miliband for the party leadership in 2010 and Lisa Nandy in 2020. She did not publicly endorse a candidate in the 2015 and 2016 leadership elections.
No date has been set yet for the by-election to succeed Cooper. The seat has been held by Labour since 1992, before which it was a Conservative held seat.
West Lancashire general election 2019 result
Rosie Cooper (Lab) 27,458 (52.1%) -6.8%
Jack Gilmore (Con) 19,122 (36.3%) -1.1%
Simon Thomson (LDem) 2,560 (4.9%) +2.9%
Marc Stanton (Brexit) 2,275 (4.3%) New
John Puddifer (Grn) 1,248 (2.4%) +1.1%