TRIBUTES have been paid to long-serving Newport West MP Paul Flynn, who has announced he is to stand down after 31 years in Parliament.

Yesterday the Argus revealed the Labour MP had said he had “no other choice” but to resign “at the earliest opportunity” as a result of his rheumatoid arthritis, which has escalated to the point it has become difficult to do his job.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn led tributes, saying: "I’m sorry to hear Paul has announced his intention to stand down from Parliament due to ill health.

“Paul has served his constituents with distinction for more than 30 years - he has been a passionate campaigner against the Iraq War and for the medicinal use of cannabis.

"From the backbenches to the shadow cabinet, his commitment, grace and humour shone through.

“I want to thank him for his dedicated service to the people of Newport West and for his devotion to parliamentary accountability. I wish him all the best for the future.”

And first minister Carwyn Jones said: "Paul has been a tireless campaigner against inequality and a vociferous advocate for the people of Newport West. His wit and humour will be sorely missed in the House of Commons, as will his forensic approach to holding the UK Government to account."

Tributes also came from Mr Flynn's colleagues in Newport. His opposite number in Newport East Jessica Morden said: “Paul is and always has been a fantastic MP for Newport West.

“I know he has been working hard for his constituents and despite his recent illness has continued to help people. When he does stand down at the next election he will be greatly missed as a passionate Newportonian and one of the great parliamentarians.”

And his Assembly counterpart Jayne Bryant said it had been “a huge privilege” to work alongside him.

“I first met him when he came to speak to St Julian’s Primary as a new MP in 1987 and he’s inspired me ever since,” she said. “I know he will continue to work for his constituents until he steps down at the next General Election.”

Newport East AM John Griffiths described Mr Flynn as a “colleague and friend”.

“The first general election I was directly involved with was Paul’s 1987 victory when he won Newport West from Tory Mark Robinson,” he said.

“Campaigning with Paul was always good fun as well as hard work.

“Paul is a principled, passionate and hardworking politician who has always ensured that Newport West’s voice is heard in Westminster.

“Paul will be sorely missed, not only for his driven work ethic but for his proud socialist values which in these times of Tory austerity are needed more desperately than ever. It has been a privilege to serve Newport alongside him for many years and I wish Paul well in all his future endeavours and for a speedy and full recovery.”

Tributes have also been paid from across the political spectrum.

Writing on Twitter, leader of Newport’s Conservative group Cllr Matthew Evans said: “Although we are politically poles apart, saddened to hear his illness is preventing him from doing what he loves to do.”

And, also writing on Twitter, Nicholas Webb, who stood against Mr Flynn for the Conservatives in 2015, coming in second with 32.5 per cent of the vote, said: “I’d like to wish @PaulFlynnMP well as he focuses on his health. His commitment to public service over 31 years is demonstrated by his stubborn refusal to have allowed the pain of rheumatoid arthritis to inhibit his commitment to work for his constituents.”

And leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Jane Dodds said she had “a great deal of respect” for the Labour stalwart.

“He is a conviction politician who always stands by his principles and what he believes in,” she said. “I’m very sad to hear he feels the need to leave Parliament as soon as possible but wish him all the best.”

Labour councillor for Risca West on Caerphilly County Council Cllr Ross Whiting shared an anecdote about the long-serving MP.

He said: “Twenty years ago, when I was about six, I was in a wheelchair. My school weren’t interested in putting in a disabled ramp so my mum went to see Paul Flynn, and took me along. Suffice to say the school installed the ramp soon after.”

Mr Flynn has said he believes there will be another General Election in the next few months, which would give him the opportunity to make way, but has said he will trigger a by-election if necessary.