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Gething Vaughan remains defiant as he hit general election campaign train in Chepstow

Labour candidate Catherine Fookes with shadow pensions minister Liz Kendall and first minister Vaughan Gething at Chepstow Books and Gifts in St Mary Street (Pic: LDRS)

A DEFIANT Vaughan Gething has hit the general election campaign trail in Chepstow and insisted he won’t be resigning after losing a confidence vote. 

The first minister and Welsh Labour leader joined shadow cabinet member Liz Kendall for a campaign visit to the Conservative held Monmouthshire constituency the party is targeting hard in the run up to the July 4 poll. 

They had wanted to talk about support for small and medium-sized businesses but faced repeated questions over Mr Gething’s future following the lost confidence vote in the Senedd on Wednesday where the first minister was seen in tears at times. 

Mr Gething dismissed the vote, which passed with two of Labour’s 30 members absent, as “naked political opportunism” but said it presented a difficulty due to opposition parties refusing to ‘pair’ members, who wouldn’t have voted to maintain the balance between parties in the 60 member Senedd. 

Ms Kendall repeated to several media outlets that the vote was a “Conservative gimmick aided and abetted by Plaid”. 

It was held following concern Mr Gething had accepted donations totalling £200,000 from a firm whose owner has criminal convictions related to polluting the Gwent Levels, his dismissal of Welsh minister Hannah Blythyn and questions over deleted phone messages from the Covid period. 

While being interviewed, on St Mary Street, by BBC Wales Mr Gething replied “no” when asked if he would resign while an older man, walking by, shouted “You need to resign mate” towards the first minister. 

However Mr Gething was also asked to pose for a photograph with a group of children and young teenagers and was embraced by a passer by and also asked for a photograph with a shopkeeper other than two handpicked businesses he and the shadow pensions secretary visited. 

Mr Gething was elected by Labour members in March, but his tenure has been overshadowed by the donations row that broke in January and has contained several twists.

Ms Blythyn and another former minister, Lee Waters, who has previously publicly criticised the acceptance of the donation, were absent from Wednesday’s crunch vote, due to illness. 

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Mr Gething denied he was refusing to accept the agreed majority view of the Senedd and told the Local Democracy Reporting Service there are “established agreements on when people are unwell that you even up the balance.” 

When it was put to Mr Gething the absent pair could have voted remotely he replied: “When the leader of the Welsh Conservatives was absent for three months there was an expectation that he would vote from home. For three months we provided a ‘pair’, so we removed one of our votes to make sure it didn’t upset the democratic balance, that’s an established way of working in our parliament and virtually every other parliament in the western world. 

“That isn’t what happened last week. That’s about naked political opportunism. Now it’s difficult because the parliament has voted. I’ve got to make a choice, does this mean that Wales is going to be ambushed in the future, if this happens? Will ill health mean there’s a difference in the future, what does that mean for our group? 

He said he was interested in “the future which we could, and should, have. The future I was elected to lead just a few weeks ago”.

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