Calendar An icon of a desk calendar. Cancel An icon of a circle with a diagonal line across. Caret An icon of a block arrow pointing to the right. Email An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of the Facebook "f" mark. Google An icon of the Google "G" mark. Linked In An icon of the Linked In "in" mark. Logout An icon representing logout. Profile An icon that resembles human head and shoulders. Telephone An icon of a traditional telephone receiver. Tick An icon of a tick mark. Is Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes. Is Not Public An icon of a human eye and eyelashes with a diagonal line through it. Pause Icon A two-lined pause icon for stopping interactions. Quote Mark A opening quote mark. Quote Mark A closing quote mark. Arrow An icon of an arrow. Folder An icon of a paper folder. Breaking An icon of an exclamation mark on a circular background. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Caret An icon of a caret arrow. Clock An icon of a clock face. Close An icon of the an X shape. Close Icon An icon used to represent where to interact to collapse or dismiss a component Comment An icon of a speech bubble. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Comments An icon of a speech bubble, denoting user comments. Ellipsis An icon of 3 horizontal dots. Envelope An icon of a paper envelope. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Camera An icon of a digital camera. Home An icon of a house. Instagram An icon of the Instagram logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. Magnifying Glass An icon of a magnifying glass. Search Icon A magnifying glass icon that is used to represent the function of searching. Menu An icon of 3 horizontal lines. Hamburger Menu Icon An icon used to represent a collapsed menu. Next An icon of an arrow pointing to the right. Notice An explanation mark centred inside a circle. Previous An icon of an arrow pointing to the left. Rating An icon of a star. Tag An icon of a tag. Twitter An icon of the Twitter logo. Video Camera An icon of a video camera shape. Speech Bubble Icon A icon displaying a speech bubble WhatsApp An icon of the WhatsApp logo. Information An icon of an information logo. Plus A mathematical 'plus' symbol. Duration An icon indicating Time. Success Tick An icon of a green tick. Success Tick Timeout An icon of a greyed out success tick. Loading Spinner An icon of a loading spinner. Facebook Messenger An icon of the facebook messenger app logo. Facebook An icon of a facebook f logo. Facebook Messenger An icon of the Twitter app logo. LinkedIn An icon of the LinkedIn logo. WhatsApp Messenger An icon of the Whatsapp messenger app logo. Email An icon of an mail envelope. Copy link A decentered black square over a white square.

Stephen Flynn: Charting rapid rise of SNP Westminster leader and Dundee United fan who branded Rishi Sunak ‘a disgrace’

Dundee-born MP Stephen Flynn. Image: Scott Baxter/DC Thomson.
Dundee-born MP Stephen Flynn. Image: Scott Baxter/DC Thomson.

MP Stephen Flynn, the SNP’s Westminster leader, has enjoyed a rapid rise to the top.

The Dundee United fan replaced Ian Blackford in December, beating Glasgow MP Alison Thewliss in the leadership race.

He won the backing of 26 SNP MPs and Paisley firebrand Mhairi Black now serves as his deputy.

Nearly three months on, Flynn has hit the headlines after branding UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak a “complete and utter disgrace” as he challenged him on the Tory party’s controversial new Illegal Migration Bill.

He said: “From whom are this government taking inspiration – Nigel Farage or Enoch Powell?”

Who is the MP from the City of Discovery and where did his political career start?

Stephen Flynn

Aberdeen South MP, Stephen Flynn.

There were reports in November the 34-year-old was preparing to oust Mr Blackford as leader, after being backed by MPs.

But the Aberdeen MP denied he was launching a leadership bid, saying he had “no intention of standing”.

Despite his denial, he quickly become the most probable candidate following Mr Blackford’s resignation.

The dad-of-two, who grew up in Dundee and Brechin, first moved to Aberdeen more than a decade ago, prompted by his wife working as a teacher in the city.

He studied history and politics at Dundee University, then a postgraduate degree in international relations and security studies. He joined the office of former SNP MSP Maureen Watt when he moved to the Granite City.

Flynn is a proud Dundee United fan, telling Holyrood Magazine in 2020 that his “guilty pleasure is still travelling down to Dundee to watch Dundee United play”.

Asked what his greatest fear was, in the ‘Getting to Know You’ Q&A, he replied: “Is it too much football chat if I say Dundee Football Club winning the Scottish Cup?

“I don’t have to be worried about it, because it’s not been since 1910 that they last won it.

“But if it did happen, I’d be pretty upset.”

Speaking to The Courier last year, Flynn said he is “probably the only politician in Aberdeen to ever go chap doors with a Dundee United top on” before a game against the Dons a few years back.

His first home was his parents’ flat in Stobswell, not far from Tannadice, and he says his love of the Tangerines is “something that runs right through my family”.

“Myself, my dad, my brother, my best pal, we all sit together at Tannadice”, he adds.

“We have done for a long time. I’ve had a season ticket since 1993. I’ve been going to see United for a long, long time.

“I just hope I’ll still be able to have the time to go and see them.”

Local government years

It was a local Aberdeen by-election in 2015 where he entered the world of politics.

His dad Mark Flynn is also a politician, serving as a Dundee SNP councillor.

Speaking at the time, the newly-elected councillor, said: “I’m fed up of reading about the in-fighting that goes on in the council, I want progress.”

Stephen Flynn while councillor at Aberdeen City Council in 2017. Image: Chris Sumner/DC Thomson.

He experienced a rapid rise within the local SNP group and was voted in unanimously as leader in 2016.

The councillor quickly became a thorn in the side of the ruling Labour, Conservative and Independent coalition.

One of his first actions as group leader was to write to former Chancellor George Osborne calling for support for the oil industry – a sector he continues to support in the Commons.

Outgoing First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and SNP candidate Stephen Flynn on the campaign trail at Inchgarth Community Centre. Image: Kath Flannery/DC Thomson.

His party won the most seats in the 2017 local elections – more than trebling their number of councillors to 19.

But they remained locked out of the Town House, after failing to form a coalition with any of the other parties.

Journey to the Commons

The 34-year-old was elected MP for Aberdeen South in 2019 after managing to take the seat from the Tories.

Following the result, Mr Flynn pledged to “fight tirelessly as an SNP MP at Westminster to offer Scotland an escape from Brexit”.

In a double celebration for the family, his wife Lynn gave birth to the couple’s first child just three days after the General Election result.

Stephen Flynn, with his wife Lynn, at the 2019 General Election vote count. Image: Kenny Elrick/DC Thomson.

In 2020, he told the Evening Express he underwent a “life-changing” hip replacement operation.

He suffered from a serious condition called avascular necrosis since his teens – leaving him unable to walk without sticks or crutches for 17 years.

The MP said he went from being a “sports-daft” teenager to “spending long periods in my bed at home or in hospital”.

But after undergoing the surgery two years ago, Mr Flynn said he was looking forward to a new lease of life – with a walk on the beach with his son top of his to-do-list.

As his party’s business spokesperson, he has regularly spoken out on the future of the energy sector in the north-east.

He backed calls for a windfall tax on oil and gas companies, and other big firms making record profits this year.

Now, he is the MP in charge of the party as it looks to break away from Westminster forever.

He told The Guardian last month: “We’ve got to be conscious of the fact that a big chunk of people in Scotland don’t want to be independent, and we have to reach out to them and take them with us.”