Plaid Cymru to Labour: Voting compact ends if you poach our ex-leader

Leanne Wood says deal relies on a minority Welsh government

 

Plaid Cymru has warned that its co-operation with the Welsh government cannot be taken for granted amid rumours one of its former AMs could be appointed a minister.

Following the elections to the assembly in May, Labour won 29 of the 60 seats up for grabs.

While Carwyn Jones successfully persuaded the sole Liberal Democrat AM Kirsty Williams to join the Welsh government as Education Secretary, it still meant anther party was needed to ensure budgets and other important measures were approved.

The result was a compact between the government and Plaid Cymru under which Plaid would remain an opposition party but support ministers in key votes in return for a number of policy concessions including a new Treatment Fund, 30 hours of free childcare a week and the requirement of new GPS.

Since the election however, Plaid Cymru’s former leader, Lord Ellis-Thomas, has resigned from the party to become an independent amid a growing rift between him and the current leader, Leanne Wood.

It had been suggested that he felt Plaid needed to do more to support the Welsh government, fuelling speculation he could be offered a ministerial post by First Minister Carwyn Jones.

While such rumours have been denied by the government, it has not stopped Leanne Wood issuing a warning.

Writing in a blog post looking back at the party’s achievements in 2016, she writes that co-operation with the Welsh government ‘hasn’t happened by accident” and that “it cannot be taken for granted’. She continues:

“It is based on the existing arithmetic of the assembly. In October I said that Plaid Cymru’s votes for future budgets were not in the bag.

If the arithmetic of the assembly changes, for example if any new assembly member is brought into the government from outside, then Wales will have a majority government.

In that case, the Welsh national interest would best be served by a strong opposition to Labour from Plaid Cymru. Under those circumstances, the compact would come to an end.”

A spokesperson for the Welsh Conservatives responded to Leanne Wood’s comments by saying that they ‘stand ready to show Plaid Cymru the true meaning of strong opposition should it decide to unravel itself from Labour’s cosy embrace’.

Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor to Left Foot Forward

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