Vaughan Gething no confidence vote expected

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Vaughan Gething no confidence vote expected

Gareth Lewis,Political editor, BBC Wales

Senedd Cymru Vaughan GethingSenedd Cymru

Vaughan Gething looks set to face a Tory no confidence motion next week

Wales’ First Minister Vaughan Gething looks set to face a vote of no confidence when the Senedd returns next week.

The Welsh Conservatives are said to be very likely to table one ahead of a deadline of 18:00 BST on Wednesday, with the vote to take place on 5 June.

Mr Gething has faced unrelenting pressure after accepting £200,000 of donations to his recent Welsh Labour leadership campaign from a company whose owner was convicted of environmental offences.

Labour holds 30 of the 60 seats in the Senedd, so for the vote of no confidence to succeed at least one Labour Member of the Senedd would need either to vote in favour of the motion or abstain.

On 17 May the Senedd Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies said it was “odds-on” that a no confidence motion would be called.

He was speaking after Mr Gething sacked one of his ministers, Hannah Blythyn, for leaking messages to the media, something she denies.

On the donations, the first minister has always maintained that they were declared and registered in accordance with the rules.

The £31,000 of unspent campaign funding is being donated by the Labour Party to “progressive causes”.

Even if Mr Gething were to lose the vote, it would not be binding as it would be tabled in opposition time.

But it would put the first minister in an extremely difficult position.

It would also come at an awkward time for the wider UK Labour Party in the middle of a general election campaign.

Plaid Cymru would also have to vote in favour of the motion for it to stand any chance of being passed.

Plaid withdrew from their co-operation agreement with the Welsh Labour government in the Senedd earlier in May ahead of the original expiration date of December.

The agreement saw Plaid support Welsh Labour ministers in getting their budget through the Senedd in return for joint work on 46 policy areas, including free school meals, Senedd reform and farming subsidies.

Senedd Cymru Andrew RT DaviesSenedd Cymru

Conservative Andrew RT Davies says people have “serious questions” about the donations

Speaking to Sunday Supplement on BBC Radio Wales on 19 May, Plaid’s leader Rhun ap Iorwerth did not confirm which way his party would vote were a no confidence motion to be put forward, but said the row over donations and Ms Blythyn’s sacking had become a “distraction”.

He also said: “There is not much point in bringing a vote of no confidence in the Senedd when you know pretty much that Labour are confident that they will circle the wagons.

“They will support their leader.

“This is essentially about the spotlight being shone brighter and brighter on Vaughan Gething from within his own party, and that is ultimately where the decision will be made as to whether he stays Labour leader.”

The context around the vote is different to recent events in Scotland where the former first minister Humza Yousaf abruptly ended the power-sharing arrangement with the Greens and resigned before facing a vote of no confidence, which without Green support he was not certain of winning.

Could the Tories call it off?

There are still a number of factors which could lead to the Conservatives deciding not to call the vote.

Would any Labour MSs really rebel? The Welsh Labour Party in the Senedd is usually highly disciplined and the consequences for any rebels could be severe.

The general election campaign also comes into play.

It arguably makes any rebellion even less likely, with the stakes high and any distraction for Labour incredibly unwelcome.

And a third is what actually suits the Conservative Party.

At the moment the first minster is under pressure and there is political advantage for the opposition parties in keeping him there.

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