A vote to elect a First Minister for the new Welsh Assembly term has ended in a surprise deadlock.
Carwyn Jones failed to be re-elected after Plaid Cymru challenged the Welsh Labour incumbent by nominating its leader, Leanne Wood. The vote in the Senedd ended in a 29-29 tie.
It’s understood Plaid’s nomination, put forward by Ynys Mon AM Rhun ap Iorwerth, was backed by both the UKIP and the Welsh Conservatives, while the sole Welsh Liberal Democrat – former leader Kirsty Williams – gave Mr Jones her backing, as did all Labour AMs in the chamber.
The Senedd was adjourned to allow for talks and the vote was postponed until the Assembly sits again next Tuesday. Labour AMs entered crisis talks in the Senedd following the result.
In a statement, the Plaid Cymru group said: ”As is the convention, the biggest party were given an opportunity to reach an agreement on forming a government which could lead Wales with the support of the majority of members in the national Assembly. They took the decision not to pursue that option, and were not prepared to give the process of negotiation any further time. As a result, the Plaid Cymru group followed normal Parliamentary protocol and nominated Leanne Wood for First Minister. Carwyn Jones was informed of this decision yesterday. Since that time, and as far as Plaid Cymru is aware, there have been no formal discussions, agreements or deals pursued between any party. This afternoon, the Assembly failed to reach agreement on who should become First Minister and form the next government. It is now for the parties to discuss this matter further in order to seek the best outcome for Wales.”
After the vote, Kirsty Williams said: ”I was not re-elected into the National Assembly to support a ragtag coalition made up of UKIP Assembly Members who at the moment can’t even agree with each other. That is not my politics and not something I will even contemplate. I am disappointed that Plaid seem to think that is a viable option. The reality that we have to face is that Labour have 29 Assembly Members. It is therefore clear that they have the strongest mandate from the people of Wales.”
Mr Jones remains as first minister until AMs vote to reappoint to replace him. If members fail to elect a member by midnight on Thursday 2nd June, the UK Government could call new Assembly elections.
Earlier in the day, Plaid AM for Ceredigion, Elin Jones, was elected as the new presiding officer, seeing off competition from Lord Dafydd Ellis Thomas. She will be deputised by Labour’s Vale of Clwyd AM, Ann Jones, who was re-elected last Thursday.