Vaughan Gething vows to carry on as First Minister in Wales

Vaughan Gething has vowed to carry on as First Minister of Wales despite losing a no-confidence vote, saying he is “proud to be the First Minister of Wales to serve and lead my country”.

He lost the vote on his leadership in the Senedd on Wednesday, with 29 votes against him to 27 for.

The motion follows the collapse of the co-operation deal between Labour and Plaid Cymru and a series of rows involving Mr Gething.

The First Minister told broadcasters: “I’m here, proud to be the First Minister of Wales to serve and lead my country. That’s what I’ve done today, it’s what I’ll carry on doing.”

Vaughan Gething
First Minister Vaughan Gething said it had been a ‘very disappointing afternoon’ (Senedd TV/PA)

Following the vote, opposition parties called on Mr Gething to resign.

Mr Gething said it had been a “very disappointing afternoon”, branding the motion a “transparent gimmick” that was impacted by two members of his party being unwell.

Without the absence of Hannah Blythyn, who Mr Gething recently sacked from his government, and Lee Waters, the no-confidence motion was unlikely to have passed.

He said: “To go into a position where the ill health of two of our members has affected the outcome of the vote.

“On ill health grounds we have always paired, that means you even up people in one party to another.

“We did that for more than three months with the leader of the Conservative Party.”

The motion was non-binding and will not force Mr Gething to stand aside from his role as First Minister but the result will be embarrassing for him.

The First Minister said he would be carrying on in his role and would be travelling to Normandy on Wednesday evening to take part in a D-Day commemoration event.

Mr Gething was visibly emotional during the debate and could be seen wiping tears from his eyes.

Speaking to broadcasters, he said his integrity had been brought into question with “months and months of innuendo” that was “damaging and hurtful”.

He said: “Where is the evidence I have ever done anything in a way that I should not have as a minister?

“I can tell you there is no evidence of that because it has not happened.

“Today was an exercise in muck-throwing – the range of different things that were said that members know are simply not true is really quite disgraceful.”

Vaughan Gething
Mr Gething said his integrity had been brought into question (Senedd TV/PA)

Rhun ap Iorwerth, the leader of Plaid Cymru, urged Mr Gething to “do the honourable thing and resign” after losing the vote of no confidence.

He said: “The Senedd has spoken on behalf of the people of Wales – we have no confidence in the Labour First Minister.

“Without every Labour member backing him in tonight’s vote, Vaughan Gething must do the honourable thing and resign to ensure no further instability at the heart of the Labour Welsh Government.

“His government is clearly in disarray and as such is unable to face the significant challenges ahead for Wales.

“By honouring the result of the vote, Welsh Government and our Senedd can move on from this regretful episode.”

Andrew RT Davies, the leader of the Welsh Conservatives, said Mr Gething had “lost the confidence of the people of Wales”.

He said: “He has lost the confidence of the Senedd.

“The only person who is still batting for Vaughan Gething is Keir Starmer.”

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.

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 had also refused to show any evidence to explain why he sacked Senedd member Ms Blythyn from his government, after he accused her of leaking messages to the media.

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

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”.