Starmer to campaign in Wales alongside embattled First Minister Gething

Starmer to campaign in Wales alongside embattled First Minister Gething

Sir Keir Starmer will head to Wales on Thursday to campaign alongside embattled First Minister Vaughan Gething as the General Election contest continues.

The Labour leader is expected to launch his party’s “doorstep offer” to Welsh voters during an event with Mr Gething and shadow Wales secretary Jo Stevens in South Wales.

His visit comes a day after it was confirmed that Mr Gething will face a confidence vote in the Welsh Senedd following the collapse of a co-operation deal with Plaid Cymru earlier this month.

The collapse of the deal followed a series of rows involving Mr Gething, who became First Minister in March and now faces a confidence vote on June 5.

On Wednesday, Sir Keir gave his backing to the First Minister, telling reporters during a campaign stop in Worcestershire that Mr Gething is “doing a good job”.

As well as discussing Labour’s “six first steps”, Thursday’s event is expected to see Sir Keir recommit to investing in the UK’s steel industry amid concerns about job losses at Port Talbot steelworks.

He is also expected to promise to put Wales at the centre of his party’s plans for cleaner, cheaper energy and to work with the Welsh Government to cut NHS waiting times and recruit more teachers and police officers.

Before the visit, Sir Keir said: “This is a chance to vote for a Wales finally free from the impact of Tory chaos and division. To turn the page and start to rebuild our nations – our entire country – and elect a UK government that will serve the interests of working people in Wales.

(PA Graphics)

“These first steps show that a changed UK Labour Party is back in the service of working people in Wales. They show our priorities, what we care about and what the public cares about. Country first, party second.”

Labour has been in power in Wales since devolution in 1999, sometimes on its own and sometimes with the support of the Liberal Democrats or Plaid Cymru.

Mr Gething took over as First Minister on March 20 after his predecessor, Mark Drakeford, retired following six years in office.

But his tenure has so far proved rocky, with concerns being raised about donations to his leadership campaign and his decision to sack Senedd member Hannah Blythyn from his government, accusing her of leaking messages to the media.

Before Thursday’s campaign event, Mr Gething said the General Election is an opportunity to “unleash Wales’s full potential… with two Labour governments working in partnership, ending the churlish Tory war on devolution and backing a stronger Welsh economy”.

Welsh Conservative leader and Senedd member Andrew RT Davies said Sir Keir’s decision to campaign with Mr Gething was “a reflection of their equally poor judgment” and “should worry us all”.

He said: “Keir Starmer calls Labour in Wales his ‘blueprint’ for government, which should stand as a stark warning for what a Labour-run UK government would look like.

“After 25 years, the Labour Welsh Government’s record speaks for itself and includes the lowest employment, smallest pay packets, steepest decline in education standards and the longest waiting lists in the UK – which have just hit a new record as waits in Conservative-run England fall.”