Welsh First Minister loses vote of no confidence amid political turmoil

First Minister of Wales Vaughan Gething became tearful during a Senedd committee hearing ahead of a vote of no confidence in him
-Credit: (Image: Senedd TV/PA Wire)

Vaughan Gething, the First Minister of Wales, has been dealt a blow as he lost a no-confidence vote initiated by the Welsh Conservatives.

The motion follows the collapse of the co-operation deal between Labour and Plaid Cymru and a series of rows involving Mr Gething. He lost the vote on his leadership in the Senedd on Wednesday, with 29 votes against him to 27 for.

Mr Gething was visibly emotional and could be seen wiping tears from his eyes as the motion was debated. Two members of his group did not attend the vote, with Vikki Howell, the chairwoman of the Welsh Labour group, having said they were “unwell”.

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Mr Gething told the Senedd it “hurts deeply” when his intentions are questioned and insisted he has never made a decision as a minister for personal or financial gain. The motion is non-binding and will not force Mr Gething to stand aside from his role as First Minister, but the result will be highly embarrassing for him.

Ahead of the vote, Sir Keir Starmer, the leader of the Labour Party, offered his support for the FM, accusing Plaid Cymru and the Conservatives of “game playing”. Mr Gething, who has been the Welsh Labour leader since March, faced the no-confidence vote after being plagued by scandal during his short time in office.

Vaughan Gething (front row second from right) becoming tearful during a Senedd committee hearing ahead of a vote of no confidence in him
The Welsh Conservatives tabled a motion of no confidence -Credit:Senedd TV/PA Wire

Concerns were raised after Mr Gething accepted a donation from a man convicted of environmental offences during his run to be Welsh Labour leader. Mr Gething has also refused to show any evidence to explain why he sacked Senedd member Hannah Blythyn from his government, after he accused her of leaking messages to the media.

The First Minister’s decision followed a report on the Nation.Cymru news website which featured a message posted to a ministerial group chat in August 2020 by Mr Gething, stating that he was “deleting the messages in this group”. He said the leaked message was from a section of an iMessage group chat with other Labour ministers and related to internal discussions within the Senedd Labour group.

He told the UK Covid-19 Inquiry that lost WhatsApp messages were not deleted by him, but by the Welsh Parliament’s IT team during a security rebuild. Mr Gething has always insisted that all rules were followed when he took the donation and denied the leaked message contradicted the evidence he had given to the inquiry, adding that it did not relate to pandemic decision-making but “comments that colleagues make to and about each other”.