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Caroline Louise Flint (born 20 September 1961) is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament (MP) for Don Valley since 1997. She served in the Government as the Minister for Public Health from 2005 to 2007, the Minister for Employment from 2007 to 2008, the Minister for Housing and Planning in 2008, and finally as the Minister for Europe from 2008 to 2009, when she resigned citing disagreement with the leadership style of Gordon Brown.

Caroline Flint

Official portrait of Caroline Flint crop 2.jpg
Shadow Secretary of State
for Energy and Climate Change
In office
7 October 2011 – 14 September 2015
LeaderEd Miliband
Harriet Harman (Acting)
Preceded byMeg Hillier
Succeeded byLisa Nandy
Shadow Secretary of State
for Communities and Local Government
In office
8 October 2010 – 7 October 2011
LeaderEd Miliband
Preceded byJohn Denham
Succeeded byHilary Benn
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 byPosition 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
Assumed office
1 May 1997
Preceded byMartin Redmond
Majority5,169 (11.2%)
Personal details
Born (1961-09-20) 20 September 1961 (age 58)
Twickenham, Middlesex, England
Political partyLabour
Spouse(s)Phil Cole
Alma materUniversity of East Anglia
WebsiteOfficial website
Official Facebook

In 2010, she was elected to the Shadow Cabinet and Ed Miliband appointed her Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. From 2011 to 2015, she was Shadow Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.

Early life and careerEdit

Flint was born on 20 September 1961 in Twickenham. She was educated at Twickenham Girls School,[1] and Richmond Tertiary College[1] before earning a degree in American Literature and History and Film Studies from the University of East Anglia.[2] She joined the Labour Party when she was 17. She was the Women's Officer of the National Organisation of Labour Students from 1982 to 1984.[3]

She began her career with the Inner London Education Authority, as a management trainee from 1984 to 1985 and as a Policy Officer from 1985 to 1987.[4] She was head of the Women's Unit at the National Union of Students from 1988 to 1989, before joining Lambeth Council as an Equal Opportunities Officer from 1989 to 1991, and then Welfare and Staff Development Officer from 1991 to 1993.[4] From 1994 to 1997, she was the Senior Researcher and Political Officer for the GMB Union.[4]

Parliamentary careerEdit

Flint has been a member of parliament since the 1997 general election.[3] She was re-elected at the 2001 general election, the 2005 general election, the 2010 general election, the 2015 general election and 2017 general election.

Along with several other Labour women MPs, she is a member of a tap dancing troupe known as the Division Belles.[5] Flint is a member of the Fabian Society. Flint is a member of Labour Friends of Israel.[6]She is a member of Labour Friends of Israel.[7]

In governmentEdit

In 1999, Flint became Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Peter Hain while he was Minister of State at the Department of Trade and Industry and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office before in 2002 becoming Parliamentary Private Secretary to Dr John Reid, while he was Leader of the House of Commons and Minister without portfolio.[3]

Initially joining the government in June 2003 as Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Home Office, Flint was moved in May 2005 to the Department of Health, with responsibility for Public Health first as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State and from May 2006 as Minister of State in the same role.[3]

As Public Health minister she was responsible for managing government programmes concerning radiation exposure, the potential bird flu epidemic, sex education, and the prevention of communicable diseases such as tuberculosis and HIV, and oversaw campaigns to tackle obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. She was also due to take ministerial responsibility for implementing the smoke-free workplace regulations in all public places resulting from the Health Act 2006, but was moved just a couple of days before it came into force (on 1 July 2007).

During her tenure at the Home Office, Flint reclassified magic mushrooms as a Class A drug.[8] Flint pushed through the bill[9] despite some challenges and objections from peers and MPs such as Dr Brian Iddon,[10][11] plus disputed use of a scientific study by Swiss academic Dr Felix Hasler,[12][13]

In February 2007, it was announced that she would be Hazel Blears' campaign manager in Blears' campaign for the Deputy Leadership election of the Labour Party following John Prescott's resignation. Blears did not win, coming sixth in the election.

In the Cabinet reshuffle of 29 June 2007 Caroline Flint moved to the Department for Work and Pensions where she served as the Minister for Employment and Welfare Reform.[3] Flint was also appointed to the new position of Minister for Yorkshire and the Humber.[3]

On 24 January 2008, Flint was promoted to Minister of State for Housing and Planning, and as a result would now attend Cabinet meetings.[3] She was also appointed a member of the Privy Council and she relinquished her role as regional minister.[3] In February 2008, Flint suggested that unemployed council tenants should "actively seek work", as a condition of their occupancy.[14] In May that year, she inadvertently revealed grim forecasts for the future of house prices when she was photographed walking into Downing Street with her briefing papers visible. Close inspection revealed that her document read: "We can't tell how bad it will get."[15]

She was moved to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in the October 2008 reshuffle, to become the Minister for Europe.[1] On 31 March 2009 she admitted that she had not read the Lisbon Treaty, the document which codifies the rules of the European Union. Critics described her admission as "extraordinary" and "unbelievable," particularly given that the minister's responsibilities include overseeing the introduction of the Treaty.[16]


Flint resigned after the Cabinet reshuffle of 5 June 2009 asserting that Gordon Brown was running a "two-tier government", and believed that she had been treated as "female window dressing" though she had earlier professed her loyalty to the Prime Minister.[17] Flint renewed her attack on Gordon Brown in an Observer newspaper article on 7 June 2009, saying that she was not ashamed of a glamorous photoshoot which had upset Downing Street. She launched a broadside against the Prime Minister, complaining of "this constant pressure, this negative bullying".[18]

Deputy Leadership candidateEdit

On 16 May 2015, Caroline Flint announced her intention to seek candidacy for the Labour Party deputy leadership election. Along with Tom Watson, she was seen as being a front runner in the contest.[19] By the time nominations closed on 17 June, Flint had gained 43 MP nominees, second only to Tom Watson, and more than enough to confirm her place in the ballot.[20] Flint came third.

In Parliament, she is a member of the Public Accounts Committee and the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament, and is a former member of the Administration Committee, the Education Sub-committee, the Education & Employment Committee and the Modernisation of the House of Commons Committee.[21] She supported Owen Smith in the failed attempt to replace Jeremy Corbyn in the 2016 Labour Party (UK) leadership election.[22]


In 2005, Flint claimed her constituency home in Sprotbrough as her second home, and a house in outer London as her main home. She sold her outer London home to buy a flat in Victoria, London in 2006. To buy the flat, Flint claimed £1,000 solicitors fees and £12,750 in stamp duty on allowances; the Fees Office paid £7,700 of the claim. The Victoria flat became her second home and her constituency property her main residence.[23][24]

Flint was one of 98 MPs who voted in favour of legislation which would have kept MPs' expense details secret.[25] In an investigation into MPs claims she was ordered by Sir Thomas Legg to repay £572 in over-claimed expenses.[26]

Flint employs her husband as her Senior Parliamentary Assistant on a salary up to £40,000.[27] The practice of MPs employing family members was criticised by some sections of the media, on the grounds that it promotes nepotism.[28][29] Although MPs who were first elected in 2017 have been banned from employing family members, the restriction is not retrospective – meaning that Flint's employment of her husband is lawful.[30]

Personal lifeEdit

Flint's first marriage was to Saief Zammel, a Tunisian stockbroker.[31][32] They had a son and a daughter. They were divorced in 1990 after Zammel was arrested on charges of violent disorder. He was later deported.[32][33]

In July 2001 she married Phil Cole, a former Labour Party regional officer and public relations professional, a councillor for the Edlington and Warmsworth ward of Doncaster Council since May 2012. They live outside Flint's Don Valley constituency, in Sprotbrough.[34][35]


  1. ^ a b c "Caroline Flint: Electoral history and profile". The Guardian. London. 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. Retrieved 4 January 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h "Democracy Live – Caroline Flint MP". BBC News. 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. ^ Crompton, Simon (18 November 2006). "The nation's top nanny". The Times. London. Retrieved 4 January 2011.
  6. ^ "Anger grows within Labour over forced Palestinian vote". Independent. 10 October 2014.
  7. ^ "LFI Supporters in Parliament". Labour Friends of Israel. Retrieved 8 September 2019.
  8. ^ "Drugs Bill" (PDF). Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  9. ^ "Magic mushrooms ban becomes law". BBC News. 18 July 2005. Retrieved 12 October 2012..
  10. ^ Honigsbaum, Mark (16 April 2005). "Peers and MPs join furore over 'rushed' ban on magic mushrooms". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  11. ^ "Evidence to the Standing Committee on the Drugs Bill 2005". Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  12. ^ "Acute psychological and physiological effects of psilocybin in healthy humans" (PDF). Retrieved 22 November 2016.
  13. ^ "The Evidence Base for the Classification of Drugs" (PDF). Retrieved 12 October 2012.
  14. ^ Wintour, Patrick. Wintour "Labour: if you want a council house, find a job", The Guardian, 5 February 2009. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  15. ^ .Patrick Wintour (14 May 2008). "Minister reveals housing fears in briefing gaffe". The Guardian. Retrieved 27 March 2019.
  16. ^ Rosa Prince (31 March 2009). "Caroline Flint, Europe minister, hasn't read Lisbon Treaty". Daily Telegraph. London.
  17. ^ "'Just female window dressing' – Full text of Caroline Flint's resignation letter". Edinburgh: The Scotsman. 5 June 2009. Retrieved 5 June 2009.
  18. ^ Hinsliff, Gaby (7 June 2009). ""Angry Flint in fresh attack on Brown" The Observer". London: Guardian. Retrieved 7 June 2009.
  19. ^ Bush, Stephen (16 May 2015). "Caroline Flint launches bid for Labour's deputy leadership". New Statesman. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  20. ^ "Yorkshire MP makes final five in fight to be Labour's deputy leader". Yorkshire Post. 17 June 2015. Retrieved 30 July 2015.
  21. ^ "Caroline Flint MP". GOV.UK. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  22. ^ "Full list of MPs and MEPs backing challenger Owen Smith". LabourList. 21 July 2016. Retrieved 15 July 2019.
  23. ^ Prince, Rosa (8 May 2009). "Caroline Flint claimed £14,000 for fees for new flat: MPs' expenses". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 6 June 2009.
  24. ^ "Caroline Flint's response over MPs' expenses". The Daily Telegraph. London. 8 May 2009. Retrieved 1 June 2009.
  25. ^ Bremner, Charles; Robertson, David (20 May 2007). "How your MP voted on the FOI Bill". The Times. London.
  26. ^ "Full list of MPs' expenses repayments". BBC News. 4 February 2010.
  27. ^ "IPSA". GOV.UK. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  28. ^ "One in five MPs employs a family member: the full list revealed". The Daily Telegraph. 29 June 2015. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  29. ^ Mason, Rowena (29 June 2015). "Keeping it in the family: new MPs continue to hire relatives as staff". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  30. ^ "MPs banned from employing spouses after election in expenses crackdown". London Evening Standard. 21 April 2017. Retrieved 29 October 2018.
  31. ^ Langley, William (18 May 2008). "An all-too-revealing peek at the briefs of Caroline Flint". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  32. ^ a b Fairford, Lucy (10 May 2009). "Sexism, motherhood, ambition – and looking good". The Observer. Retrieved 5 February 2017.
  33. ^ Leach, Ben; Lefort, Rebecca (10 July 2010). "MP's scandals covered up on Wikipedia". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 5 February 2017.CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  34. ^ Sprotbrough
  35. ^ "About Caroline". Archived from the original on 14 December 2011. Retrieved 30 March 2012.

External linksEdit