Welsh First Minister loses vote of no confidence 

It has been quite the month in Welsh politics – for a country that usually stays out of the political spotlight, a lot has happened recently. 

First Minister Vaughan Gething last night (Tuesday 5 June) lost a no-confidence vote in his leadership. The vote passed 29 votes to 27 and came just 77 days after he was elected.  

The Welsh Conservatives, Plaid Cymru, and the Liberal Democrats all called for the Labour leader to resign – but Gething vowed to “carry on doing my duty”. Two of his Welsh Labour colleagues were too ill to take part in the vote. 

 

So, what’s happened? 

The Welsh Conservatives forced the vote after weeks of rows about donations to his leadership campaign.  

Gething’s decision to accept this money was met with intense scrutiny from opposition and Labour benches alike. His opponent for the top job, Jeremy Miles MS, said that he would not have accepted the donation. 

This situation intensified when news broke of Hannah Blythyn MS’s sacking as the Welsh Government Minister for Social Partnership for allegedly leaking information to the media 

This was followed closely by Plaid Cymru’s decision to end their co-operation agreement with the Welsh Government seven months earlier than planned. Plaid leader, Rhun Ap Iorwerth, in a statement released by Plaid Cymru, said that Mr Gething’s decision not to pay back the controversial donation “demonstrates a significant lack of judgement”.  

The ending of this agreement freed ap Iorwerth to scrutinise the Government without needing to worry about complex relations and formal working arrangements. It also left Welsh Labour having to look again at how they approach passing the Welsh Budget through the Senedd.  

 

What could happen next? 

Despite the nature of a vote of no-confidence, the one which took place last night won’t force a resignation from the embattled First Minister. Only votes tabled in the name of the Welsh government can, not votes in the name of an individual minister. 

This means Mr Gething doesn’t have to resign and it isn’t expected that he will – but the result of the vote only adds to the growing pressure that is already on him. 

The timing of this vote couldn’t have come at a worse time for Welsh Labour with the party ahead in the polls for the upcoming general election. 

All eyes will be on UK Labour to see how Keir Starmer responds, having previously defended the First Minister and recently attended the Welsh Labour campaign launch shoulder to shoulder with Gething in Monmouth.  

Discipline and unity are key to both Welsh and the changed UK Labour party. Will Welsh Labour MSs break rank in the coming days and put public pressure on the First Minister? 

If Starmer remains ahead in the polls, that will provide political coverage for Gething. However, if that lead looks to waver at all – especially following Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s tax attack during the ITV Leader’s debate – then we may see Starmer distance himself from Gething.  

If Vaughan Gething were to resign, his tenure as Wales’s First Minister would be the shortest in history for this young legislature, beating Alun Michael who was First Secretary of Wales for just under 9 months. 

Could Vaughan Gething be Wales’s shortest serving First Minister? Only time will tell. 

 

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