Vaughan Gething loses vote of no confidence

Vaughan Gething, the embattled First Minister of Wales, has lost a vote of no confidence tabled 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”.

Mark Drakeford's replacement
The vote took place in the Senedd on Wednesday (Anthony Devlin/PA)

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”.

Welsh Conservatives leader Andrew RT Davies opened the debate by insisting it was “not a gimmick” and that the people of Wales were concerned about the FM’s leadership.

Mr Davies accused the FM of showing “massive disrespect” to the people of Wales by not publishing the evidence showing why he sacked Hannah Blythyn, a government minister, who he accused of leaking messages to the media.

He added: “This is not a gimmick, this is a motion put down in opposition time that might well not be binding, but will send a significant message on the transparency, the honesty and the judgment call of the First Minister since he assumed office.”

Paul Davies, the member for Preseli Pembrokeshire, called for Mr Gething to step down and “do the right thing”, as he did in 2021, when he resigned as Conservative leader after being accused of breaking Covid-19 rules.

He said: “As politicians, we all have to be held accountable for our decisions, and I more than most know from personal experience what it’s like to be held accountable for one’s actions.

“When a standards commissioner investigated allegations against me during the pandemic, I’d like to think I did the right thing by my party and my country, I stepped down as leader of the Welsh Conservatives in this place, because it was the right thing to do.”

Members of the Labour group stood behind their leader, with Hefin David, the member for Caerphilly, questioning if the vote was due to Mr Gething’s race, with the FM being the first black leader of any European country.

He said: “I, as an observer, have the right to ask if his ethnicity has an influence on the motives of some of those outside of this Chamber who seek to break him on the wheel.

“We cannot ignore that question, and we cannot dismiss the lived experience of BAME (black Asian minority ethnic) people who feel it to be the case.”

Labour’s Joyce Watson, MS for Mid and West Wales, told the opposition groups she will “never forgive you” for bringing the vote forward on D-Day, which prevented Mr Gething from attending a commemorative event in Portsmouth.

Mr Gething told the Senedd: “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 services and to Wales.

“Even in the midst of an election campaign, it does hurt deeply when my intentions are questioned.”

He added: “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.”

MSs voted 29 in favour, 27 against the motion of no confidence in Mr Gething, a majority of two.

Following the vote, the Llywydd, presiding officer, Elin Jones said: “It is now for the first minister to reflect on the view that the Senedd has just expressed and the motion that has been agreed.

“Confidence motions are political yes, but they are also intensely personal and while a vote of this nature will have consequences whatever they may be, I ask us all to treat each other with respect and kindness now.”

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 no confidence vote
First Minister of Wales Vaughan Gething (centre) after losing the vote of no confidence in him (Senedd TV/PA)

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”.