Paul Flynn (politician)

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Paul Flynn
Shadow Leader of the House of Commons
In office
4 July 2016 – 6 October 2016
Leader Jeremy Corbyn
Shadowing Chris Grayling
David Lidington
Preceded by Chris Bryant
Succeeded by Valerie Vaz
Shadow Secretary of State for Wales
In office
3 July 2016 – 6 October 2016
Leader Jeremy Corbyn
Shadowing Alun Cairns
Preceded by Nia Griffith
Succeeded by Jo Stevens
Member of Parliament
for Newport West
Assumed office
11 June 1987
Preceded by Mark Robinson
Majority 5,658 (13.0%)
Personal details
Born Paul Philip Flynn
(1935-02-09) 9 February 1935 (age 83)
Cardiff, Wales, UK
Political party Labour
Spouse(s) Anne Harvey (1962–1984)
Samantha Cumpstone (1985–
Children 2 (with Harvey)
Alma mater Cardiff University

Paul Philip Flynn MP (born 9 February 1935) is a British Labour Party politician, who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Newport West since the 1987 general election. He was born in Cardiff of Welsh/Irish parentage. In 2016, he briefly served as Shadow Secretary of State for Wales and Shadow Leader of the House of Commons. Aged 81, he became the oldest MP in over a century to hold a shadow cabinet position.[1]

Educational and professional background[edit]

A native of Cardiff, Flynn was educated at the local Catholic grammar school St Illtyd's College and at University College, Cardiff.

On leaving education in 1955 he worked as a chemist in the steel industry, where he remained until 1983. After a year as a broadcaster on Gwent Community Radio, he became a researcher for the Member of the European Parliament Llew Smith in 1984 and remained as such until his election to the House of Commons.

Political career[edit]

Flynn was a member of the Newport Borough Council in 1972–1981 and to the Gwent County Council 1974–1982. He unsuccessfully contested Denbigh at the October 1974 General Election where he was defeated by the Conservative, Geraint Morgan, by 4,551 votes. He was elected to the House of Commons for Newport West at the 1987 general election, defeating the Conservative Mark Robinson, who had unexpectedly won the seat at the 1983 election. Flynn defeated Robinson by 2,708 votes and has remained the MP since.

Flynn joined the front bench under Neil Kinnock in 1988 when he became a spokesman on health and social security and for social security in 1989. He resigned from the front bench in 1990 and was on the back benches for 26 years after that until his appointment to Jeremy Corbyn's shadow cabinet following a string of resignations. He joined the Transport Select Committee in 1990 until after the 1997 General Election when he joined the Welsh Affairs Select Committee for a year. He was a member of the Environmental Audit Select Committee in 2003 until the 2005 general election, since when he has been a member of the Public Administration Select Committee.

On 30 June 2016, Flynn stood in on the party's front bench as Shadow Leader of the House of Commons following Chris Bryant's resignation, prior to a permanent replacement being appointed.[2][3] Believed to be the oldest person to speak from the front benches since William Gladstone in the 19th century, he joked that his appointment would improve the diversity of a Parliament whose front benches suffered from a "a total absence of octogenerians".[4] On 3 July 2016, Flynn was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Wales.[5] On 6 October 2016, Flynn was replaced as Shadow Wales secretary by Jo Stevens and as Shadow Leader of the House by Valerie Vaz.[6] Flynn said "Our glorious leader, in an act of pioneering diversity, courageously decided to give opportunities for geriatrics on the front bench and this was so successful that he decided to create opportunities for geriatrics on the back bench. I'm double blessed."[7]

Flynn is a long-standing opponent of nuclear power in the United Kingdom, and in particular the new Hinkley Point C nuclear power station across the Bristol Channel from his constituency.[8][9]

In November 2017, Flynn declared that Donald Trump should be arrested for inciting racial hatred if he went ahead with visiting the UK.[10]

Flynn has called for the legalisation of cannabis.[11] In August 2017, he said in the House of Commons: “I would call on people to break the law. To come here and use cannabis here and see what happens”.[12]

Flynn has called for Theresa May to promise a second referendum on European Union membership. He stated that “second thoughts are always superior to first thoughts”. May responded to his call by saying that it was “out of the question”.[13]

Flynn is critical of the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, and has argued that the parliamentary expenses scheme should be replaced with a flat rate allowance dependent on the distance their constituency from Westminster. He claims that the current procedure is too bureaucratic and time-consuming.[14]

Flynn has been Chairman of the Broadcasting Council for Wales, and member of the South Wales Docks Board and the Council of University College, Cardiff.[15]

In March 2018, following the poisoning of Sergei and Yulia Skripal Flynn tweeted that the Conservative Party were “officially sponsored by NERVE GAS KILLERS R US”. He later deleted the post.[16]

Endowment Justice[edit]

Flynn agreed in 2005 to pay out more than £36,000 to settle a libel action brought against him by a complaints handling firm that specialises in endowment mortgages. Flynn's solicitor told the High Court that the MP was retracting allegations he had made against Endowment Justice, a company that works on a contingency fee basis for borrowers who believe they have been mis-sold endowment-linked mortgages. Endowment Justice launched legal proceedings against Flynn after he highlighted the growing number of complaints against handling firms.

The company had previously held talks with Flynn over its concerns about bad practices at several complaints-handling firms, but Flynn subsequently named Endowment Justice in accusations he made about the whole sector. Flynn agreed to pay Endowment Justice's legal costs of £35,450, plus £1,000 in damages, which the company has said it will donate to the NSPCC. He also agreed to publish an apology on his website.[17]

Israeli ambassador comments[edit]

In November 2011, Flynn expressed concern that Matthew Gould, the UK's ambassador to Israel, had "proclaimed himself to be a Zionist".[18] Martin Bright, writing in the Jewish Chronicle, reported that when challenged, Flynn said that Gould was vulnerable to accusations "of having Jewish loyalty" and that the position should be given to "someone with roots in the UK". Flynn claimed "there hasn't been a Jewish ambassador to Israel and I think that is a good decision – to avoid the accusation that they have gone native."[19] These comments drew criticism from Middle East Minister Alistair Burt, who stated that "Paul Flynn should take some time to consider his comments, which could easily be misconstrued. There is absolutely no reason why our ambassador to Israel should not be Jewish. Any allegations about Matthew Gould's conduct are utterly unsubstantiated. He is a first-class ambassador."[19]

Douglas Alexander, the Shadow Foreign Secretary, also criticized Flynn, stating that "The faith of any British diplomat is irrelevant to their capability to their job. To make suggestions otherwise is wrong and offensive."[19] Labour MP John Mann, who is chair of the All-party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism, stated that Flynn should start preparing for his "retirement" and that "I suggest he starts his retirement with a workers' education course on understanding racism."[20] Flynn later clarified his comments, saying "There is no reason that anyone of any race or religion should be debarred from public office."[21]

Philip Hammond comments[edit]

On 18 September 2012, Flynn was suspended from the sittings of the House of Commons for five days and docked a month's wages, after he accused Defence Secretary Philip Hammond of lying to Parliament by saying that military operations in Afghanistan were not reduced following attacks on NATO troops operating as trainers, and subsequently refused to withdraw the allegation when instructed to do so by Speaker John Bercow.[22][23][24]


Flynn is a fluent speaker of Welsh, having learned the language as an adult, and comments about issues on Welsh-language TV and radio. Flynn was one of the first MPs to use the internet to communicate with constituents, and in 2000 won the New Statesman New Media Award for his website[15] which has been voted the best website of all MPs on many other occasions.[25] He was an early adopter of Hansard CD-ROMs. He has written a book, Dragons Led By Poodles, about the devolution campaign in Wales in the 1990s, in which he was severely critical of some of his fellow MPs.[26]

Personal life[edit]

He has been twice married, first to Anne Harvey in 1962, with whom he had two children, a son and a daughter; their daughter committed suicide in 1979, aged 15.[27] Paul and Anne Flynn divorced in 1984. The following year, he married Samantha Morgan Cumpstone, by whom he has two children.[28]

In 2007, Flynn suffered a mini stroke.[29]


  • Television in Wales by Paul Flynn, 1974
  • Commons Knowledge: How to Be a Backbencher by Paul Flynn, 1997, Seren Books ISBN 1-85411-206-6
  • Baglu 'Mlaen (Cyfres Y Cewri) by Paul Flynn, 1998, Cyhoeddiadau Mei ISBN 0-86074-147-8
  • Dragons Led by Poodles: Inside Story of a New Labour Stitch Up by Paul Flynn, 1999, Politico's Publishing ISBN 1-902301-24-2
  • The Unusual Suspect by Paul Flynn, 2010, Biteback Publishing ISBN 978-1-84954-017-9
  • How to be an MP by Paul Flynn, 2012, Biteback Publishing ISBN 978-1-84954-220-3


  1. ^ "Paul Flynn makes comeback as shadow minister aged 81". ITV News. 30 June 2016. Retrieved 3 July 2016. 
  2. ^ "Labour MP Paul Flynn claims promotion 'part of diversity project'". BBC News. 30 June 2016. Retrieved 30 June 2016. 
  3. ^ Ian Craig (30 June 2016). "Rumours MP Paul Flynn appointed shadow leader of the Commons 'not true'". The Argus. Retrieved 5 July 2016. 
  4. ^ Cornock, David (30 June 2016). "'Trailblazer' octogenarian back on Commons front bench". BBC. Retrieved 4 July 2016. 
  5. ^ Silk, Huw (3 July 2016). "Newport MP Paul Flynn, 81, appointed shadow Welsh secretary by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn". WalesOnline. Retrieved 3 July 2016. 
  6. ^ "Labour's new shadow cabinet in full". BBC News. 7 October 2016. Retrieved 12 October 2016. 
  7. ^ "EXCL Anger of 81-year-old Paul Flynn after he was sacked from Shadow Cabinet". 
  8. ^ Williamson, David (2 April 2013). "Paul Flynn in call for UK to pull out of nuclear power". Wales Online. Retrieved 3 August 2018. 
  9. ^ Craven, Neil (1 November 2015). "MPs attack 'desperate' £25bn Hinkley nuclear power station plan". This is Money. Retrieved 3 August 2018. 
  10. ^ Post reply (2017-11-30). "Donald Trump "should be arrested for inciting racial hatred": MP Paul Flynn". South Wales Argus. Retrieved 2018-07-30. 
  11. ^ David Batty, Labour MPs support medicinal cannabis use, The Guardian, 24 May 2006.
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Brexit: MP Paul Flynn urges second referendum - BBC News". 2017-10-23. Retrieved 2018-07-30. 
  14. ^ Kate McCann, Senior Political Correspondent (2016-08-30). "Parliamentary expenses should be scrapped and MPs trusted with an allowance, says top Corbyn ally". Retrieved 2018-07-30. 
  15. ^ a b "Members Of Parliament in Newport". South Wales Argus. Archived from the original on 19 July 2013. Retrieved 9 September 2013. 
  16. ^ Bates, Liz. "Former Labour frontbencher under fire over Tory 'nerve gas killers' tweet". Retrieved 2018-08-08. 
  17. ^ David Prosser (9 November 2005). "Labour MP Flynn faces £36,000 legal bill after losing libel action". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 2005-11-13. Retrieved 2007-11-22. 
  18. ^ Hansard Public Administration Committee 24/11/2011
  19. ^ a b c Bright, Martin (1 December 2011). "Jewish envoy not loyal to UK, says Labour MP". The Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 23 November 2015. 
  20. ^ Lipman, Jennifer (1 December 2011). "MP who questioned Jewish envoy's loyalty should 'prepare to retire". The Jewish Chronicle. 
  21. ^ Lipman, Jennifer (7 December 2011). "MP sorry for saying Jewish envoy 'disloyal' to UK". The Jewish Chronicle. 
  22. ^ "Paul Flynn MP thrown out of Commons for lie accusation". BBC. 18 September 2012. Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  23. ^ Rosa Prince (18 September 2012). "Paul Flynn is thrown out of Commons for calling Philip Hammond a 'liar'". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 26 January 2014. 
  24. ^ "Nato curbs Afghan joint patrols over 'insider' attacks". BBC. 18 September 2012. Retrieved 25 January 2014. 
  25. ^ "British Computer Society Awards Best MP Websites". British Computer Society. 8 November 2007. Retrieved 9 September 2013. 
  26. ^ Dragons and Poodles – a story of Welsh politics BBC News Wednesday, 15 September 1999
  27. ^ "Life can hold no worse pain... Paul Flynn MP on the day he lost his beautiful teenage daughter". Daily Mail. 27 February 2010. Retrieved 3 July 2016. 
  28. ^ "Paul, Who?". Paul Flynn MP. Retrieved 3 July 2016. 
  29. ^ Claire Truscott (21 November 2007). "MP recovering after mini-stroke". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 

External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
Preceded by
Mark Robinson
Member of Parliament
for Newport West

Political offices
Preceded by
Nia Griffith
Shadow Secretary of State for Wales
Succeeded by
Jo Stevens
Preceded by
Chris Bryant
Shadow Leader of the House of Commons
Succeeded by
Valerie Vaz