Wales politics

Jeremy Corbyn tribute to MP Paul Flynn at Newport funeral

Paul Flynn's funeral
Image caption The service was held at St Woolos Cathedral

Jeremy Corbyn has joined mourners at a funeral service remembering the life of late Newport West MP Paul Flynn.

The Labour leader said Mr Flynn, who died aged 84, was fiercely independent and never "besotted by power".

Newport West AM Jayne Bryant said he was a "giant of the Labour movement" and "a tenacious campaigner".

Wales' First Minister Mark Drakeford and Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns were also among those in attendance at St Woolos Cathedral in Newport.

The cathedral was full for the service, led by the Very Reverend Lister Tonge.

Speeches recalled the variety of campaigns Mr Flynn applied himself to - his opposition to war, his support for devolution and his love of the Welsh language, among others.

Mr Corbyn said the late backbencher "could be devastatingly powerful in an often quiet way".

He recalled how Mr Flynn would read out in Parliament the names of those who died in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, later tabling them as early day motions after he was stopped doing so.

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Image caption Paul Flynn was admired by MPs across the House of Commons as an independent thinker

The Labour leader had invited him to join his shadow cabinet after a number of Labour frontbench resignations in 2016.

He joked that Mr Flynn told him in a meeting after his promotion that, because he was the oldest member of the cabinet, Mr Corbyn should let him take over.

"Paul's contribution to our lives and Parliament was something very special," he added.

Newport West AM Jayne Bryant said Paul Flynn was a "giant of the Labour movement" and "a tenacious campaigner".

"Best of all, he was kind, inspiring and so much fun to be around," she said.

Image caption Jeremy Corbyn said Mr Flynn made a special contribution to Parliament

Ms Bryant described how Mr Flynn had "brought politics alive" to her when she was aged nine.

"His background shaped him," she said, describing his roots in the Grangetown area of Cardiff of the 1930s, where "poverty was near universal".

The AM said Mr Flynn "never forgot the painful, proud and honest poverty of working class life".

He was "respected across the political divide, with his wonderful turn of phrase, witty comments and incisive mind", she said, adding that Mr Flynn was "far ahead of his time on issues which others found too controversial".

Mr Flynn was incredibly proud to have been received to the Gorsedd as Paul Y Siartwyr (Paul the Chartist), Ms Bryant added.

She said the sacrifice and commitment to democracy shown by the Chartists - Newport's 19th Century campaigners for electoral reform - were a "constant inspiration" to the late MP.

Image caption Paul Flynn had a "tongue of fire", Jon Owen Jones said

Former Cardiff Central MP Jon Owen Jones said Mr Flynn "had a keen intellect" which he applied "to the thorniest problems of our times".

"It wasn't just his brain but also his heart - he had the courage to speak out," he said.

"He was no one's poodle, but a dragon, with a tongue of fire."

Paul Flynn was a Welsh patriot "with a love of the Welsh language", and a House of Commons man "par excellence", Mr Jones added.

"When he spoke there was a fair chance he would say something original," he said.

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