Paul Flynn makes comeback as shadow minister aged 81

Paul Flynn told MPs he'd spent 26 years on the backbenches by choice: "not just my choice, but the choice of five leaders of my party". Credit: Parliament TV

Paul Flynn, who's been MP for Newport West since 1987 has made a comeback as a shadow minister at the age of 81.

Mr Flynn left the Labour front bench 26 years ago and went onto write what's become the definitive guide to how to be an effective backbench MP.

But when he shadowed the Leader of the House this morning, he admitted that was not the whole story.

The weekly business questions are mostly a chance for backbenchers to raise issues with the government and Paul Flynn has made full use of the opportunity over the years.

But today he stepped into the breach left by the mass resignations from the Shadow Cabinet and found himself able use his front bench privileges to raise a whole series of points.

Mr Flynn took full advantage, raising a couple of several topics close to his heart.

  • That when MPs debate the Wales Bill, they should be allowed to speak in Welsh "an ancient sophisticated language ... when the ancestors of those who created English were pagan barbarians who painted themselves blue with woad and howled at the moon from the top of mountains".

  • A second EU referendum, so that the UK can learn from the football field: "The English team Brexited swiftly and ignominiously; Wales remain, with honour".

He adopted a more serious tone to press for a closer examination of ministers' outside interests and for the families of 179 dead soldiers to have a chance to respond to the Chilcot report.