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Newport West MP Paul Flynn to stand down after 31 years

image captionPaul Flynn has been MP for Newport West since 1987

One of the longest-serving Welsh MPs has announced he is to step down after 31 years in Parliament.

Newport West MP Paul Flynn, 83, said failing health meant he will relinquish his seat "as soon as possible".

Labour's Mr Flynn was first elected in 1987 and has won seven elections since then.

He has been outspoken and in 2017, he called on campaigners who want soft drugs legalised to come to Parliament and break the law.

Mr Flynn is now confined to bed because of rheumatoid arthritis, but also suffered from pernicious anaemia earlier this year and has been unable to travel to Westminster for some months.

"My intention is to go as soon as possible, " he told BBC Wales.

"I will stand down by the general election. There may be one by December. But I am keen to carry on to represent the city as long as I can. The cost of a by-election is enormous. I want to avoid that if I can.

"I am confined to bed and have four carers a day. My wife, Sam, is wonderful and Jessica Morden [the Newport East MP] has been magnificent."

Mr Flynn said he was very frustrated not to be taking an active role in politics after three decades.

He said Brexit was "absolute madness" but vowed to take part in a Commons vote on any Brexit deal presented to Parliament.

"I will go to the Commons on a stretcher if I have to," he added.

image copyrightOli Scarff/AFP/Getty Images
image captionPaul Flynn with Jeremy Corbyn, who said his "commitment, grace and humour shone through"

Labour leader said Mr Flynn had "served his constituents with distinction", describing him as 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," he said.

"I want to thank him for his dedicated service to the people of Newport West and for his devotion to parliamentary accountability."

First Minister and Welsh Labour leader Carwyn Jones called him 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," Mr Jones added.

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