Former Education Secretary and ex- Birmingham MP Estelle Morris yesterday appeared to be lining herself up for a clash with the Prime Minister over school reforms.
Proposals put forward by Tony Blair for "independent state" secondary schools were "at best a distraction, at worst a change of direction," she said in a newspaper interview.
Lady Morris quit as Education Secretary in 2002 and and stood down as MP for Birmingham Yardley at the last election.
But the former teacher could prove a powerful ally to a possible backbench rebellion over the plans, which Labour will try to push through in a Bill next year.
According to The Guardian, David Blunkett, another former Education Secretary, was also uncomfortable with the existing blueprint to give state schools greater autonomy.
Lady Morris spoke out specifically against proposals to allow schools greater freedom to set their own admissions.
She said: "Show me a school which has changed its admissions policy to attract more children from poor backgrounds with unco-operative parents.
"When schools change their admissions policy it is to attract more able children or a better balanced intake."
New Conservative leader David Cameron has expressed support for the proposals and has offered to help the Government push them through.
That, however, has rattled some Labour MPs who believe the Tories see the reforms as a return to the 11-plus system.
Mr Blair used his first Prime Minister's Questions sparring with Mr Cameron to distance himself from the 11-plus exam.
But Lady Morris claimed the White Paper on education would lead to a highly complex admissions system.
She stressed what parents really wanted was "quality leadership and quality teaching" in all schools.