PAUL Flynn, MP for Newport West for 31 years, has died aged 84.

Mr Flynn, who had been ill for some time, and who told the South Wales Argus last October that he planned to stand down "at the earliest possible opportunity" due to failing health, died yesterday.

South Wales Argus:

Paul Flynn in the House of Commons during his period as a Labour shadow front bencher in 2016

Friend and colleague Newport West AM Jayne Bryant, paid the veteran MP fulsome tribute: “Paul was a giant of the Labour movement, a passionate devolutionist and an exceptional parliamentarian.


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“He was respected across the political divide with his wonderful turn of phrase, witty comments and incisive mind. Undoubtedly, Paul spoke truth to power. He was far ahead of his time on issues which others found too controversial. He was proved right on so many of them.

“He loved Newport and was so proud to represent this constituency. There could be no one better to have on your side than Paul. A tenacious campaigner, who cared about people and never gave up, always wanting to seek out and speak up for the silent voices.

“I first met Paul when I was nine years old when he visited my school after he was first elected to represent Newport West in 1987. He brought politics alive to me then and has done so ever since. Never bland or boring, Paul proved that politics was about people and wanted young people to be as passionate about it as he was all his life. He was forever optimistic.

“Best of all he was kind, inspiring and so much fun to be around. I will miss him greatly and my thoughts are with his wife Sam and their family. He has done Newport, Wales and the Labour movement proud. “

Mr Flynn fought for his constituency seat for the eighth time in June 2017, having been elected to serve Newport West at the General Election in June 1987.

South Wales Argus:

Mr Flynn at the King's Hotel in Newport in 2010, at a meeting of members of the union PCS regarding the proposed closure of the city's Passport Office

Tributes have flooded in from across the political divide. First minister Mark Drakeford said: “Paul Flynn was a giant of the Welsh Labour movement and today’s news will be a source of great sadness to all those who knew him.

"He was one of the most effective communicators of his generation -inside the House of Commons and outside. But it was Paul’s willingness to speak up for causes beyond the political mainstream, which marked him out as a politician of real courage and integrity. 

"I first met him more than 35 years ago, and it has been a privilege to have worked with him, in the run-up to the devolution era and beyond. 

"Our thoughts are with his family today and all those who knew him.”

South Wales Argus:

Mr Flynn on the podium

Fellow Newport MP Jessica Morden (Newport East), tweeted of the "very sad news" of Mr Flynn's death, and added:

"He never let up campaigning against injustice & championing his beloved Newport.

"He did this in his own inimitable style, with wit & humour.

"The most generous of neighbours. Love to Sam & the family."

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn also added his tribute.

As did Newport Council leader Cllr Debbie Wilcox:

Cardiff South and Penarth MP Stephen Doughty:

South Wales Argus:

Mr Flynn speaking after retaining the Newport West seat for Labour at the 2017 General Election

Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns MP said it had been "a privilege" to work with Mr Flynn, whom he described as an "exceptional constituency MP".

Labour's Rhonndda MP Chris Bryant said he was "very sad" to hear of Mr Flynn's death, and praised him as "an acerbic wit, (with) a passion for justice, fierce pro-European beliefs, a complete lack of personal ambition and an ardent commtment to his constituents".

Cardiff Central MP Jo Stevens called Mr Flynn "kind and principled", and "devoted to his constituents".

Councillor Matthew Evans, Conservative Opposition Leader on Newport City Council, tweeted of his sadness at the news of Mr Flynn's death.

"Although politically on different sides of the planet, personally I always found him helpful and accommodating," he said.

"He served Newport for over 30 years wit hpassion and commitment."

David Fouweather, Conservative Newport city councillor and Mayor of Newport last year, tweeted that his thoughts are with Mr Flynn's family.

""We may have had our political differences but I always found him to be a decent, polite and fair minded man," he said.

Former Argus editor Kevin Ward also added his tributes:

Developer Stephen Fear:

A touching tribute has come from Newport County AFC too. the club tweeting that: "Everyone at Newport County AFC would like to pass on our condolences to Paul's family and friends...

"As well as a fantastic career as a long-standign MP, Paul was also an ardent County fan. RIP."

Mr Flynn had told the South Wales Argus last autumn that his rheumatoid arthritis - which he had suffered with from a young age - had escalated to the point where it had become extremely difficult to do his job fully, and he had decided to stand down to make way for someone who would be able to fully carry out the duties of an MP.

South Wales Argus:

Mr Flynn speaking at a cannabis 'tea party' held by the United Patients Alliance outside the Houses of Parliament, in October 2017. Picture - Press Association

He particularly thanked Newport East MP Jessica Morden for her work to support him, calling her "magnificent".

A respected figure in the House of Commons, Mr Flynn served as a front- and back bench MP with distinction. One of the issues close to his heart was the campaign to legalise cannabis for medical use in the UK. A Private Member’s Bill calling for this to become law, and presented by Mr Flynn, was on the Parliamentary agenda as recently as last October.

Mr Flynn was a Newport borough councillor for nine years, to 1981, and a Gwent county councillor for eight years, to 1982, before beginning a long and distinguished parliamentary career.

His first attempt at becoming an MP for Labour - fighting the Denbigh constituency in the October 1974 General Election - was unsuccessful.

But in June 1987, he won back the Newport West constituency for the party from sitting Conservative MP Mark Robinson, and had represented the area ever since.

South Wales Argus:

Mr Flynn pictured right, with then Newport East MP Roy Hughes in 1989

Last October, he described his health problems as being "more severe than anything I've ever dealt with" and "greatly regretted" having to announce that he would be standing down.