Why is the First Minister of Wales facing a no-confidence vote?

Since Vaughan Gething became the leader of Wales in March his time in office has been plagued by scandal.

Questions continue to be raised over a £200,000 donation to his Welsh Labour leadership campaign, while a row over a leaked message led to him sacking one of his ministers.

This led Plaid Cymru, which has been in a co-operation agreement with the Government, to withdraw support.

Mr Gething has been First Minister for 77 days, having succeeded Mark Drakeford in March.

He has been under pressure over a donation from the Dauson Environmental Group, which is owned by David Neal, who has twice been convicted of environmental offences.

Mr Gething took the £200,000, which was the largest individual donation in Welsh government history, during his bid to be Welsh Labour leader.

General Election campaign 2024
Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth ended the co-operation agreement with Welsh Labour (Peter Byrne/PA)

Concerns about a possible conflict of interest with the money coming from a company which was loaned £400,000 by the Welsh government-owned Development Bank of Wales (DBW) then arose.

The loan from the DBW was given to Neal Soil Suppliers – a subsidiary of Dauson – in 2023 to help purchase a solar farm, at a time when Mr Gething was economy minister.

It also emerged during the leadership campaign that Mr Gething had lobbied Natural Resources Wales (NRW) on behalf of one of Mr Neal’s companies in 2018.

Mr Gething has always insisted that he cannot take any decision relating to Dauson – which is based in his constituency – and the DBW is entirely independent of ministers.

He has also stressed that no rules were broken when he took the money.

But Plaid cited the donation as one of the reasons for ending its co-operation agreement in the Senedd with the Welsh Labour administration.

Mr Gething’s dismissal of the minister for social partnership, Hannah Blythyn, following the leak of a phone message to the media was also highlighted by Plaid leader Rhun ap Iorwerth in his decision to end the agreement with Labour.

Ms Blythyn strongly denied leaking anything and said she was “deeply shocked” at her dismissal.

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.

Mr Gething previously 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.

He 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”.

Following the collapse of the deal between Plaid and Labour, the Welsh Conservatives submitted a motion of no confidence in the First Minister.

General Election campaign 2024
Wales First Minister Vaughan Gething with UK Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer in a cafe on Barry seafront (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

However, it would be deeply embarrassing for the First Minister were he to lose, and would indicate that he does not have the support of the Senedd.

When Humza Yousaf, the former SNP First Minister of Scotland, faced a similar vote he stepped down from his post ahead of it taking place.

Since the vote was called, Mr Gething has faced fresh questions about Mr Neal and his donation.

On Monday, a BBC investigation uncovered that one of Mr Neal’s companies was under a new criminal investigation by NRW over noxious smells at a landfill site in Pembrokeshire, South Wales.

But Mr Gething has insisted he could and should not have known about the latest NRW investigation, insisting it would have been “inappropriate” for him to know.

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