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Plaid Cymru Ends Cooperation with Welsh Labour Amid Controversies and Political Tensions

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Plaid Cymru has withdrawn from its collaboration pact with Welsh Labour. The party's leader, Rhun ap Iorwerth, expressed serious worries regarding a financial contribution received by First Minister Vaughan Gething and the recent dismissal of a cabinet member.

Political correspondent @NifS

Friday, May 17, 2024, 5:

Plaid Cymru has decided to withdraw from its collaborative pact with the Welsh Labour government.

In 2021, the two groups committed to a three-year agreement to collaborate on various policy issues within the Senedd.

The minor partner has abruptly terminated the agreement, pulling out seven months prior to its scheduled conclusion.

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Plaid Cymru's Rhun ap Iorwerth spoke to Sky News about his meeting with Welsh Labour First Minister Vaughan Gething earlier today, stating that a shift in the government's approach had clarified several issues, prompting the decision.

He expressed doubts about Mr. Gething's "judgment" concerning his choice not to return a contentious £200,000 donation that has troubled the onset of his leadership. He also expressed concerns regarding the "circumstances" that led to the dismissal of Welsh minister Hannah Blythyn this week, following a dispute related to a leaked text message.

"He explained to Sky News' political correspondent Tamara Cohen that, ultimately, this was the appropriate and timely moment for us to exit the agreement," he said.

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Mr. ap Iorwerth refuted claims that the action was designed to rally support for a no-confidence vote against the first minister, stating, "That's not the purpose here. Actually, the cooperation agreement provided us with enough independence to remain a strong opposition party, allowing us to still cast a vote for no confidence if needed."

"This is about acknowledging that the moment has arrived. The administration has shifted its stance. Our prime minister is currently embroiled in scandal."

He stated: "It's essential that we articulate a distinct and promising vision for Wales' future. We will discuss this vision with boldness and confidence, demonstrating a commitment to fairness and high aspirations for Wales that is currently lacking in the Labour government's approach."

Mr. Gething issued a statement expressing his disappointment, noting, "Although we understood the agreement was temporary, it's unfortunate that Plaid Cymru has chosen to abandon their chance to serve the Welsh population."

Following expressions of gratitude to the Plaid Senedd members he collaborated with, the First Minister announced that Welsh Labour would now carefully consider ways to advance the remaining commitments of the cooperation agreement, focusing on language education and housing initiatives.

Challenging times may loom for the First Minister of Wales

Political Correspondent

Since assuming the role of first minister of Wales less than two months ago, Vaughan Gething has experienced a whirlwind period, already embroiled in controversy due to a £200,000 contribution to his leadership campaign from an individual previously convicted of environmental crimes.

Plaid Cymru has explicitly stated that this issue contributed to their choice to terminate the collaboration agreement ahead of schedule.

Welsh Labour relied on the support of Plaid's 13 members for passing laws. Now, without their backing, they may face challenges in legislative processes—though some sources within Welsh Labour indicate they foresee no imminent issues.

Sources indicate that it is logical for both sides as they prepare for the upcoming general election later this year, to part ways and potentially campaign against each other in various locations in the coming months.

However, it poses challenges for Vaughan Gething, especially since the head of the Welsh Conservatives has indicated that a no confidence vote in his leadership is highly likely due to this issue.

In my conversation with Plaid's leader, Rhun ap Iorwerth, he refuted claims that it influenced the decision, but acknowledged that it was considered given what he sees as the troubled leadership of Mr. Gething.

Welsh Labour might face some challenging times in the coming days.

When the agreement was initially made in 2021, following Welsh Labour's win of 30 out of the 60 seats in the recent Senedd elections—just shy of a majority—the two parties committed to collaborating on nearly 50 policy areas.

The arrangement did not amount to a full coalition pact, similar to the one established between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in Westminster in 2010, or the recent SNP and Green Party power-sharing agreement that failed, with none of the 13 Plaid members holding ministerial positions.

The pact proved successful, as initiatives regarding complimentary school lunches and energy were enacted by the legislature, a move both leaders commended in their individual declarations.

In recent months, there were indications that Plaid might withdraw from the agreement, as Mr. ap Iorwerth explained to the BBC that his party was fully entitled to debate the duration of the deal before its scheduled conclusion in December.

Insiders indicated that Labour views this as an ideal time to terminate the agreement before the upcoming general election, which is scheduled to occur before the year concludes.

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Andrew RT Davies, the head of the Welsh Conservatives, described the termination of collaboration between two opposing parties as merely a facade to preserve their image.

He continued: "Labour and Plaid have collaborated to shift resources from the public's main concerns to unnecessary initiatives such as increasing the number of Senedd members in Cardiff Bay. They have also closely cooperated on strategies such as the harmful sustainable farming scheme and the 20mph speed limit.

"Plaid's recent action holds no significance and will not deceive the people of Wales."

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