Caroline Flint
Official portrait of Caroline Flint crop 2.jpg
Official portrait, 2017
Minister of State for Europe
In office
3 October 2008 – 5 June 2009
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byJim Murphy
Succeeded byThe Baroness Kinnock of Holyhead
Minister of State for Housing and Planning
In office
24 January 2008 – 3 October 2008
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byYvette Cooper
Succeeded byMargaret Beckett
Minister of State for Employment
In office
28 June 2007 – 24 January 2008
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byJim Murphy
Succeeded byStephen Timms
Minister for Yorkshire and the Humber
In office
28 June 2007 – 24 January 2008
Prime MinisterGordon Brown
Preceded byOffice established
Succeeded byRosie Winterton
Minister of State for Public Health
In office
10 May 2005 – 28 June 2007
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byMelanie Johnson
Succeeded byDawn Primarolo
Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Home Affairs
In office
13 June 2003 – 10 May 2005
Prime MinisterTony Blair
Preceded byThe Lord Filkin
Succeeded byAndy Burnham
Member of Parliament
for Don Valley
In office
1 May 1997 – 6 November 2019
Preceded byMartin Redmond
Succeeded byNick Fletcher
Personal details
Born (1961-09-20) 20 September 1961 (age 60)
Twickenham, Middlesex, England
Political partyLabour
Spouse(s)Saief Zammel (div. 1990)
Phil Cole
(m. 2001)
Children2
Residence(s)Sprotbrough, South Yorkshire
Alma materUniversity of East Anglia (BA)

Caroline Louise Flint (born 20 September 1961) is a British politician who served as Member of Parliament (MP) for Don Valley from 1997 to 2019. A member of the Labour Party, she attended the Cabinet of the United Kingdom as Minister for Housing and Planning in 2008 and Minister for Europe from 2008 to 2009.

One of 101 female Labour MPs elected at the 1997 general election, Flint served in the government of Tony Blair as a junior Home Office Minister from 2003 to 2005 and Public Health Minister from 2005 to 2007. She remained in government under Gordon Brown as both Employment Minister and a Regional Minister from 2007 until 2008, when she was promoted to the Cabinet. She resigned in 2009, citing disagreement with the leadership of the Prime Minister.

Flint was elected to the shadow cabinet following Labour's 2010 election defeat, and appointed Shadow Communities and Local Government Secretary by opposition leader Ed Miliband. She was Shadow Energy and Climate Change Secretary from 2011 to 2015, and finished third-place in the 2015 deputy Labour leadership contest. Flint returned to the backbenches in 2015 and was defeated in her seat at the 2019 general election.

Early life and career

Caroline Louise Flint was born on 20 September 1961 in Twickenham, Middlesex. She was educated at Twickenham Girls' School and Richmond Tertiary College, and joined the Labour Party at 17.[1] Flint earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of East Anglia in American Literature/History with Film Studies.[2] She served as women's officer for the National Organisation of Labour Students from 1982 to 1984.[3]

She began her career at the Inner London Education Authority, where she was management trainee from 1984 to 1985 and policy officer from 1985 to 1987.[4] Flint was head of the women's unit at the National Union of Students from 1988 to 1989. She worked at Lambeth Council as an equal opportunities Officer from 1989 to 1991, and a welfare and staff development officer from 1991 to 1993.[4] She was the senior researcher and political officer for the GMB Union from 1994 to 1997.[4]

Parliamentary career

Flint was elected as Member of Parliament (MP) for Don Valley at the 1997 general election.[3] She was re-elected at the 2001, 2005, 2010, 2015 and 2017 general elections.[5][6] She is a member of the Fabian Society and of Labour Friends of Israel.[7][8]

Parliamentary Private Secretary (1999–2003)

Flint became Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Peter Hain in 1999, while he was a Minister of State at the Department of Trade and Industry and Foreign Office. She changes roles to become PPS to John Reid in 2002, while he served as Leader of the House of Commons and Minister without portfolio.[3]

Junior Minister and Minister (2003–2008)

She entered government as a junior minister in June 2003, as a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Home Affairs. During her tenure at the Home Office, Flint reclassified magic mushrooms as a Class A drug.[9] She pushed through the bill despite some concerns from Parliamentary colleagues.[10][11]

Flint was moved to the Public Health portfolio at the Department of Health in May 2005, initially as a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State and later a Minister of State from May 2006.[3] As a health minister, she was responsible for government programmes such as the prevention of communicable diseases and sex education. She oversaw campaigns to tackle issues such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

In the 2007 deputy Labour leadership election, Flint was the campaign manager for cabinet minister Hazel Blears. Her bid was unsuccessful, and she finished sixth-place in the election.

After Gordon Brown became Prime Minister, Flint moved to the Department for Work and Pensions as Minister for Employment and Welfare Reform.[3] She was also appointed to one of the new regional ministerial roles, as Minister for Yorkshire and the Humber.[3]

Cabinet Minister (2008–2009)

In January 2008, Flint was promoted to the cabinet as Minister of State for Housing and Planning. She was also appointed to the Privy Council.[3] During her tenure in the role, Flint suggested that unemployed council tenants should "actively seek work" as a condition of their occupancy.[12] In a gaffe, she inadvertently revealed house price forecasts when her briefing papers were once visible to the press.[13]

Flint moved to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the October 2008 reshuffle, remaining in cabinet as Minister for Europe.[1] In her role, she notably oversaw the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty into UK law. Flint attracted criticism upon admitting that she had not read the document in full.[14]

She resigned from government after the June 2009 cabinet reshuffle, asserting that Brown was running a "two-tier government" and that she had been treated as "female window dressing".[15] Flint renewed her attack on Brown in an Observer article, defending a glamorous photoshoot, which had allegedly upset Downing Street, and complaining of "this constant pressure, this negative bullying".[16]

In an investigation following the 2009 expenses scandal, she was required to repay £572 in over-claimed expenses.[17] Flint voted in-favour of legislation which would have kept MPs' expense details secret.[18]

Shadow Cabinet Minister and Deputy Leadership (2010–2015)

Flint in 2012
Flint in 2012

After Labour's defeat at the 2010 general election, Flint was elected to the shadow cabinet in October 2010. She was appointed Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government by party leader Ed Miliband,[19] and reshuffled to Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change in October 2011. Flint abstained on the 2011 Commons vote on military intervention in Libya.[20]

After the 2015 general election, she stood as a candidate in the deputy Labour leadership election. Seen as an early front-runner, she gained 43 MP nominations but finished third-place.[21][22]

Return to Backbenches (2015–2019)

In the 2015 Parliament, Flint was a member of the Public Accounts Committee, Intelligence and Security Committee, Administration Committee, Education Sub-Committee, Education and Employment Committee, and Modernisation of the Commons Committee.[23]

She campaigned for Remain during the 2016 EU referendum, in opposition to her leave-voting constituency.[24][25] Following the vote, Flint called for acceptance of the result to "allow the voices of her constituents to be heard".[26] She supported Owen Smith in the failed attempt to replace Jeremy Corbyn in the subsequent Labour leadership election.[27]

Flint was a frequent rebel against the Labour leadership's Brexit position, defying the party whip on several votes to support the government and oppose pro-EU bills and amendments.[28][29] She was one of six Labour MPs to vote in favour of Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Brexit withdrawal agreement.[30][31][26]

Following flooding in her constituency in November 2019, she called on the Prime Minister to declare a national emergency to provide financial help to affected families.[32][33]

Flint lost her seat at the 2019 general election to Conservative candidate Nick Fletcher.[34] She attributed the defeat to Corbyn's leadership,[35][36] criticising the party for losing public trust and being too city-centric and anti-Brexit.[37] In a later interview, she claimed that shadow cabinet minister Emily Thornberry had called northern Brexit voters "stupid".[38] Thornberry denied the allegation and threatened legal action.[39]

Post-parliamentary career

Flint was appointed chair of Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust in May 2021.[40]

She made several appearances on GB News from August 2021,[41] but ceased appear several months later.[42]

Personal life

Flint's first marriage was to Saief Zammel, a Tunisian stockbroker, whom she divorced in 1990.[43][44][45] They had a son and a daughter, media critic and journalist Hanna Flint. In 2019, Hanna spoke-out about a campaign of death threats and malicious messages sent to her mother by an individual.[46]

She married Phil Cole in July 2001, a former Labour Party regional officer and PR professional. He was employed by Flint as a parliamentary assistant and has served as a Member of Doncaster Council since 2012.[47][48] They reside near Flint's former Don Valley constituency in Sprotbrough, South Yorkshire.[49][50]

Along with several other Labour women MPs, she was a member of a tap dancing troupe known as the Division Belles.[51]

References

  1. ^ a b "Caroline Flint: Electoral history and profile". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 3 December 2013. Retrieved 4 January 2011.
  2. ^ Clark, Tom (16 May 2008). "Only Tony Blair himself has purer Blairite credentials ... ambition is the word that crops up most about her work". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 30 May 2015. Retrieved 4 January 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g "Democracy Live – Caroline Flint MP". BBC News. Archived from the original on 12 April 2011. Retrieved 4 January 2011.
  4. ^ a b c "Debrett's: The Rt Hon Caroline Flint MP". Archived from the original on 7 June 2013. Retrieved 4 January 2011.
  5. ^ "BBC News | Election 2010 | Constituency | Don Valley". news.bbc.co.uk. Archived from the original on 15 July 2019. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  6. ^ "Don Valley – 2015 Election Results – General Elections Online". electionresults.parliament.uk. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  7. ^ "Anger grows within Labour over forced Palestinian vote". Independent. 10 October 2014. Archived from the original on 15 April 2018. Retrieved 10 April 2018.
  8. ^ "LFI Supporters in Parliament". Labour Friends of Israel. Archived from the original on 2 October 2019. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  9. ^ "Drugs Bill" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 4 December 2012. Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  10. ^ Honigsbaum, Mark (16 April 2005). "Peers and MPs join furore over 'rushed' ban on magic mushrooms". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 17 May 2014. Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  11. ^ "Magic mushrooms ban becomes law". BBC News. 18 July 2005. Archived from the original on 17 May 2014. Retrieved 12 October 2012..
  12. ^ Wintour, Patrick (5 February 2009). "Labour: if you want a council house, find a job". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 October 2021.
  13. ^ .Wintour, Patrick (14 May 2008). "Minister reveals housing fears in briefing gaffe". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 March 2019.
  14. ^ Rosa Prince (31 March 2009). "Caroline Flint, Europe minister, hasn't read Lisbon Treaty". Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 12 July 2010. Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  15. ^ "'Just female window dressing' – Full text of Caroline Flint's resignation letter". Edinburgh: The Scotsman. 5 June 2009. Archived from the original on 8 June 2009. Retrieved 5 June 2009.
  16. ^ Hinsliff, Gaby (7 June 2009). ""Angry Flint in fresh attack on Brown" The Observer". London: Guardian. Archived from the original on 6 September 2013. Retrieved 7 June 2009.
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  18. ^ Bremner, Charles; Robertson, David (20 May 2007). "How your MP voted on the FOI Bill". The Times. London. Archived from the original on 8 May 2009. Retrieved 9 October 2010.
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  21. ^ "Yorkshire MP makes final five in fight to be Labour's deputy leader". Yorkshire Post. 17 June 2015. Archived from the original on 25 July 2015. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
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  23. ^ "Caroline Flint MP". GOV.UK. Archived from the original on 29 October 2018. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  24. ^ Caroline Flint on Staying In the EU, archived from the original on 17 June 2017, retrieved 14 December 2019
  25. ^ "Caroline Flint says: "I Love Britain. I'm voting to REMAIN in the EU."". Caroline Flint. Archived from the original on 14 December 2019. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  26. ^ a b Pidd, Helen (20 October 2019). "'She has listened to us': constituents back Labour rebel Caroline Flint". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on 10 December 2019. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  27. ^ "Full list of MPs and MEPs backing challenger Owen Smith". LabourList. 21 July 2016. Archived from the original on 15 July 2019. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  28. ^ Walker, Peter (11 September 2017). "Former Europe minister Caroline Flint to defy Labour whips on EU bill". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Archived from the original on 14 December 2019. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  29. ^ "Labour MP Caroline Flint says she would vote to help Boris Johnson pass a Brexit deal". PoliticsHome.com. 23 June 2019. Archived from the original on 24 June 2019. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  30. ^ Helm, Toby (19 October 2019). "Johnson 'faces fresh court action' after urging rejection of Brexit delay". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 20 October 2019. Retrieved 20 October 2019.
  31. ^ "Caroline Flint: why I'm backing this Brexit deal". The Spectator. 26 October 2019. Archived from the original on 14 December 2019. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  32. ^ "Flood warnings remain in place as Corbyn visits deluged community". Belfast Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Archived from the original on 14 December 2019. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  33. ^ Hayes, Dan (9 November 2019). "Jeremy Corbyn calls for South Yorkshire floods to be declared a national emergency". Yorkshire Post. Archived from the original on 14 December 2019.
  34. ^ "DON VALLEY: Labour's Caroline Flint loses seat after 22 years to the Conservatives". www.doncasterfreepress.co.uk. Archived from the original on 14 December 2019. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  35. ^ "Caroline Flint loses seat and asks: 'What is the point of the Labour Party?'". Sky News. 14 December 2019. Archived from the original on 14 December 2019. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  36. ^ "Caroline Flint tears into Jeremy Corbyn after losing her Doncaster seat to Conservative Party". www.yorkshirepost.co.uk. Archived from the original on 14 December 2019. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  37. ^ "'I'm sorry we didn't give you a Labour party you could trust' – Caroline Flint in parting shot to Jeremy Corbyn as she loses Don Valley to Conservatives". www.doncasterfreepress.co.uk. Archived from the original on 14 December 2019. Retrieved 14 December 2019.
  38. ^ "Caroline Flint 'stands by' comments about Emily Thornberry as Shadow Foreign Secretary threatens her with court action". The Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  39. ^ "Emily Thornberry accuses Caroline Flint of 'making up s***' about her and says she is taking legal action". ITV News. Retrieved 7 January 2020.
  40. ^ "Ex-health minister to chair trust". Health Service Journal. 11 May 2021. Retrieved 4 July 2021.
  41. ^ News Desk (14 August 2021). "Esther McVey and Caroline Flint discuss 'fast fashion' in the UK". The Global Herald. Retrieved 20 November 2021.
  42. ^ An episode in November of the For the Many Podcast with Iain Dale and Jacqui Smith
  43. ^ Langley, William (18 May 2008). "An all-too-revealing peek at the briefs of Caroline Flint". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 5 February 2017. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  44. ^ Fairford, Lucy (10 May 2009). "Sexism, motherhood, ambition – and looking good. By the Europe minister". The Observer. Archived from the original on 5 February 2017. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  45. ^ Leach, Ben; Lefort, Rebecca (10 July 2010). "MP's scandals covered up on Wikipedia". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 27 January 2011. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  46. ^ Scott, Geraldine (26 November 2019). "Daughter of Don Valley Labour candidate Caroline Flint reveals nine-month 'malicious mailings' campaign against her mother". Yorkshire Post. Retrieved 7 July 2020.
  47. ^ "Caroline Flint | IPSA". Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority. Retrieved 14 June 2022.
  48. ^ "One in five MPs employs a family member: the full list revealed". The Daily Telegraph. 29 June 2015. Archived from the original on 2 April 2017. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  49. ^ "Sprotbrough". Archived from the original on 9 June 2016. Retrieved 31 May 2016.
  50. ^ "About Caroline". Archived from the original on 14 December 2011. Retrieved 30 March 2012.
  51. ^ Crompton, Simon (18 November 2006). "The nation's top nanny". The Times. London. Archived from the original on 15 June 2011. Retrieved 4 January 2011.