Vaughan Gething's statement in full after losing no-confidence vote

Wales' First Minister Vaughan Gething has issued a statement after losing a no-confidence vote in the Senedd. In the debate about his conduct Mr Gething said he regretted the motion, brought by the Conservatives, because it "questioned his integrity".

Two of his own Labour members were absent for the vote with Hannah Blythyn and Lee Waters away from the chamber due to illness. Ms Blythyn is the minister Mr Gething controversially sacked over an alleged media leak which she denies while Mr Waters has spoken out against Mr Gething in a previous debate about him accepting £200,000 of donations from a businessman convicted of environmental offences.

After he lost the debate by 29 votes to 27 Mr Gething gave a pool interview clip. In it he said the vote was a "transparent gimmick" in the general election period "where the ill health in two of our members has affected the outcome of the vote". He said his party had always paired with other parties in circumstances of illness. "We did that for more than three months with the leader of the Welsh Conservatives so all the questions about integrity, there are lots about other people where we are. I am here, proud to be the First Minister of Wales, to serve and lead my country. That's what I've done today. It's what I'll carry on doing."

READ MORE: How every MS voted in Vaughan Gething no-confidence motion

READ MORE: The weight of history and democratic principle stacked against Vaughan Gething

He was asked if he was disappointed two of his colleagues had not logged on to vote. He said Ms Blythyn and Mr Waters were ill and when Conservative group leader Andrew RT Davies was ill he did not participate online.

"You can't get to a position where people are prepared to shift the ground depending on what suits them on the day," said the First Minister. He said the vote was a "desperate gimmick to deflect attention away from the general election".

Mr Gething was asked, because questions are not going away, whether he would support a vote of no-confidence in the government. "It's for other parties to decide if they want to do that. I've answered, repeatedly, questions about what has happened. It would be extraordinary if the outcome were, that having followed all the rules, there was still a demand that nevertheless there's a different price to be paid. I have served my country, done difficult jobs. I've won a one member, one vote ballot. This is now whether we're prepared to move forward. The questions about my integrity are really difficult because they're really hurtful."

He said he has "always acted with integrity". Asked directly if he would resign he said: "If anyone has questions about my integrity I'd like to see some evidence about what that looks like, where there is evidence that I have ever done anything in a way that I should not as a minister. I can tell you there is no evidence of that because it has not happened and today was an exercise in muck-throwing. The range of things that were said that members know were simply not true was really quite disgraceful. I'm going tonight to Normandy. I should have been in Portsmouth today honouring our D-Day veterans. I will go to Normandy to do my duty to our D-Day veterans as I should. That means a long drive overnight to do the right thing tomorrow. That's how I feel about serving my country and that's my intention and for the future".

Asked to confirm he would not resign he said he had taken "seriously" the Senedd debate. "I arrived, I attended, I took seriously the points made, I saw them for what they were and I responded in the chamber in a way that shows how much I respect the Senedd that I campaigned for more than two decades ago. I am going to carry on doing my duty. I am fiercely proud to be the First Minister of Wales and to have the opportunity to serve and lead my country".

He was asked how he now draws a line under this and whether drawing a line under the matter by there being a vote of no-confidence in the government was a possibility. He said: "If the Welsh Conservatives want to do that, if they want to take this to that point, then that is a matter for them. I think the country needs to be allowed to move on and I think if you look at today's debate, objectively at the points made, I am a man of integrity in the way I have conducted myself – throughout my time in public office in every role, in the way I serve my community, in the way I continue to serve as the First Minister".

Asked if he had the support of his Labour colleagues Mr Gething said: "I don't think my party is going to put to one side the democratic vote that took place just a few months ago on one member, one vote basis. I don't think my party will determine who will lead us."

Mr Gething broke down in tears in the debate as his Labour colleague Vikki Howells offered him her backing in the chamber. He told MSs: "I have dedicated my adult life to public service and to Wales. Even in the midst of an election campaign it does hurt deeply when my intentions are questioned. I have never, ever made a decision in more than a decade as a minister for personal or financial gain – never. I do not doubt the sincerity behind some of the questions that the motion touches on today even if the motion is transparently designed for another purpose.

"I hope the people in this chamber and beyond will take a moment to reflect on the sincerity with which I have answered and continue to answer these questions. I will not shy away from scrutiny and challenge. I have reflected on donations and, as members know, I've instigated a review into how that is handled in the future in my party and I've asked the cross-party standards of conduct committee to look at Senedd rules for all of us. " For the latest politics news in Wales sign up to our newsletter here.

Mr Gething's full speech to the Senedd chamber during the debate:

"Diolch, Llywydd. I regret that the Conservatives have brought forward this motion today. I do not regret it because I think I'm above criticism. I do not regret it because I think I have made and will continue to make mistakes. I am human, I am fallible. I do not even regret it because of the issues it raises because I have nothing to hide. I regret the motion because it is designed to question my integrity.

"Like so many of you in this chamber I have dedicated my adult life to public service and to Wales. Even in the midst of an election campaign it does hurt deeply when my intentions are questioned. I have never, ever made a decision in more than a decade as a Minister for personal or financial gain — never. I do not doubt the sincerity behind some of the questions that the motion touches on today even if the motion is transparently designed for another purpose. I hope the people in this chamber and beyond will take a moment to reflect on the sincerity with which I have answered and continue to answer these questions. I will not shy away from scrutiny and challenge. I have reflected on donations and, as members know, I've instigated a review into how that is handled in the future in my party and I've asked the cross-party standards of conduct committee to look at Senedd rules for all of us.

"We cannot, of course, retrofit new rules to old campaigns where we don't look the result. That is not how democracy works but I do take seriously what people have said to me outside the cut and thrust of this chamber. The support that I've received in recent weeks from Labour Party colleagues across Wales and the UK has been overwhelming and I'm grateful for their incredible generosity of spirit and solidarity. More than that I want to thank the many members of the public for their support in person, online, and in a variety of means. Diolch o galon i chi. I also want to recognise that, like me, so many people of colour have been traduced and vilified merely for raising concerns about how some of these debates have been handled. Our lived experience should matter and be respected. We still have a very long way to go. We have a long way to go.

"Pairs are a normal part of how this parliament and many others work. It preserves the democratic balance determined by the electorate. Welsh Labour has always paired with other parties during ill health absence. We did so for three months with the leader of the Welsh Conservatives. The refusal to do so today when two of our members are unwell reflects poorly on opposition parties. This is meant to be a motion about confidence, but we know that it is not. The timing tells you everything that you need to know.

"If Andrew RT Davies and his colleagues were genuinely concerned about the issue of political donations they would have spoken out at a different time. They would have stood up when it really counted. They would have rejected the millions of pounds given to their party by a man who boasted about wanting to shoot a black female MP or the millions given to their party by a man who served as a minister in a foreign dictatorship. If that party had genuine concerns about how decisions were made and actions taken during the pandemic they would have stood up when it counted. They would have walked away from the party that partied in Downing Street whilst the country was on its knees, walked away not defended a Prime Minister served with a criminal fixed penalty notice.

"If that party had genuine concern for the integrity of devolution and democracy in Wales then they would do well to look to their own benches before casting the first stone — to demand of anyone else standards they have no intention of meeting themselves. They can talk about confidence until they are blue in the face to match their blue rosettes. If they want a real confidence motion then table one properly in line with standing orders.

"I will tell them what I have confidence in. I have confidence in Wales and in our younger generation. I have confidence in our campaign to change our country. I have confidence that we do have brighter days ahead of us and the kind of populist politics that are being promoted day after day by the Tories I hope is about to dealt a hammer blow at the ballot box. I know that some will try to reframe this confidence as arrogance. It is absolutely not the same thing. And if that word did pop into your heads I challenge you to ask why. I can make apologies for many things but I will never shy away from a positive approach to politics, our country, and our government. I want us to to be a confident Cymru.

"To Plaid Cymru I say this: we have worked together in the past. I have offered you the hand of friendship, practical action, and co-operation. I continue to do so. You yourself recognise the hypocrisy of the Tories. You say you want to see an end of the Tories in Wales and you come here today to link arms with them. There is nothing progressive about joining the Tory lead in an anti-Labour alliance. It is the very opposite of the co-operation that we have worked through. It is of course for you to explain to your voters, members, and potential supporters why now, of all times, you would side with a party that makes enemies of the vulnerable, that smashed our economy, and treats Wales as an afterthought. Gwlad dros blaid. I will continue to put Wales first; first in thought, deed and ambition, as I serve and lead my country. Diolch yn fawr."