Newport West MP Paul Flynn has announced he will stand down from the role he was first elected to in 1987. IAN CRAIG takes a look at his storied political career.

MORE than three decades is a long time to be in any job, and that must go even more so for politicians.

So, for the same man to have represented Newport West in Parliament for 31 years is no mean feat.

But that era is coming to an end, with the outspoken Labour MP’s announcement he will stand down in the face of poor health.

A lifelong Labour Party member, Mr Flynn has said he first became interested in politics in the 1945 General Election - when he was 10 years old.

His formal political career began in the 1970s, when he was elected to Newport Borough Council. He served as a councillor, later on Gwent County Council, for a decade.

An early attempt to win a Parliamentary seat in Denbigh in 1974 saw him come in third - although ahead of Plaid Cymru’s Ieuan Wyn Jones, who would go on to become deputy first minister of Wales from 2007 until 2011.

It wasn’t until 13 years later that he tried again, and snatched Newport West - the seat he has held ever since - from Conservative Mark Robinson on June 11, 1987.

Since then he gained a reputation as one of the most verbose speakers in Parliament, gifted with a colourful turn of phrase.

In that time he has served under six prime ministers, but seems to have been content to spend much of his tenure on the backbenches, with only a two-year stint in Neil Kinnock’s shadow cabinet from 1988 until 1990 and then three months on the front bench under Jeremy Corbyn in 2016 following a series of resignations.

A vocal opponent of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, in 2009 he spent almost seven minutes reading the names of the 176 British military personnel who has been killed in Iraq up to that point since hostilities began in 2003.

He also campaigned alongside the Argus against the planned closure of Newport’s passport office, and in 2011 joined us in handing over a petition with 24,000 signatures at Downing Street.

Mr Flynn has also opposed nuclear power and campaigned for more safety measures in sports such as boxing and rugby which involve repeated blows to the head.

He also successfully campaigned for the sale of bull bars, large metal frames fitted to the front of cars and other vehicles to protect them from crashes, to be banned in the UK due to dangers to pedestrians - a victory he said he was particularly proud of.

More recently he’s been a vocal opponent of President Trump, and in 2016 led a Parliamentary debate calling for the billionaire - then a presidential candidate - from the UK.

He’s even been portrayed in a West End play, when, last year, a hearing into the collapse of charity Kids Company by Westminster’s Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, in which Mr Flynn played a key role, was dramatised at London’s Donmar Warehouse.

The prestigious role of the Newport West MP in Committee: A New Musical went to Anthony O’Donnell, who appeared in James Bond blockbuster Skyfall and television programmes including Gavin and Stacey.

In recent years he has been prominent in the campaign to legalise the use of cannabis for medical use in the UK, and last year called on people to break the law by smoking the drug in Parliament.

He has also presented a Private Member’s Bill calling for a change to the law, which has been pushed back twice, and is next on the Parliamentary agenda tomorrow, Friday.

But his tenure in Parliament has not been entirely without its speedbumps.

In 2005 he was accused of libel after he wrote articles calling into question the practices of a company allegedly purchasing endowment policies for profit.

He ultimately paid out more than £36,000 to settle the claim. He later claimed back more than £10,000 in solicitors’ fees - which is within the rules of Parliamentary expenses.

In 2007 he suffered a mini-stroke, but soon bounced back and returned to work.

And in 2011 he came under fire after calling into the question the loyalty of the British ambassador to Israel, who was Jewish.

He later apologised and withdrew his remarks, saying: "I greatly regret the interpretation that has been placed on (the claims) and I fully understand why offence was given."

Mr Flynn's blog, in which he writes often brutal and unfiltered articles about other MPs, is very well-read in political circles, but House of Commons officials also attempted to get him to stop using it in 2008. But he refused, arguing he pays for the website himself and is entitled to use it as he wishes.

A vocal anti-Brexiteer, he has remained steadfast in his belief leaving the European Union is the wrong move, and has joined calls for a second referendum - despite Newport voting 55.99 per cent to 44.01 per cent to leave the EU in 2016 - a position for which he has come in for some criticism.

Speaking to the Argus when he was re-elected for the seventh time last June, Mr Flynn called his career so far as “a huge kaleidoscope of wonderful events and marvellous opportunities”.

“I’ve loved every minute of being in Parliament and I want to go and do it forever,” he said.

“It’s an extraordinarily privileged position to be in.

“You can achieve things, some small things for individuals that are deeply satisfying, and also make a change on the big picture nationally and internationally.

“I get as much satisfaction from settling a claim where somebody local has been treated unjustly as I do from giving President Trump a mouthful of abuse he richly deserves.”

Mr Flynn is also well-known in political circles for his series of books taking an insider’s look at Parliament, with How to be an MP, published in 2012, considered required reading for new Parliamentarians.

“They’re not only the best books on the subject, but they’re the only books on the subject,” he said.

“That’s probably what I’ll be best known for in Parliament, for writing the books.”

Speaking last year Mr Flynn said he felt like he was "just starting out".

“I am full of ideas and full of enthusiasm," he said.

But now it seems his storied career is finally drawing to a close.