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The first Black leader of Wales loses a no-confidence vote but says he won’t resign – Metro US

The first Black leader of Wales loses a no-confidence vote but says he won’t resign

Britain Politics Wales
First Minister of Wales Vaughan Gething speaks at the launch of Labour’s six steps for change in Wales at the Priory Centre in Abergavenny, Wales, Thursday, May 30, 2024, while on the General Election campaign trail. The leader of Wales’ semi-autonomous government faces a no-confidence vote in the Welsh parliament on Wednesday, June 5, 2024, but does not plan to resign if he loses, his party said. (Stefan Rousseau/PA via AP)

LONDON (AP) — The first minister of Wales, Vaughan Gething, lost a no-confidence vote in the Welsh parliament on Wednesday, less than three months after he made history as the first Black leader of a government in the U.K.

The opposition Conservatives called the nonbinding vote in Gething, who heads Wales’ semi-autonomous administration, after weeks of criticism of his leadership and judgment in accepting a contentious campaign donation.

The result — a vote of 29-27 against the leader — was a blow to Gething. He said it had been a “very disappointing afternoon,” but insisted he wouldn’t resign.

“I’m here, proud to be the first minister of Wales to serve and lead my country,” he said.

Gething’s Labour Party holds 30 of the 60 Senedd seats, and two Labour lawmakers were out sick on Wednesday, ensuring the no-confidence vote would pass. Labour has relied on support from the Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru to win votes, but the parties’ cooperation arrangement collapsed last month.

Gething, the son of a Welsh father and a Zambian mother, made history in March when he was elected to head the Cardiff-based administration. He said at the time that it was “a matter of pride for a modern Wales but also a daunting responsibility for me — and one that I do not take lightly.”

During his election campaign he faced criticism for accepting 200,000 pounds ($255,000) in donations from a recycling company whose owner had been found guilty of environmental offenses and breaching health and safety regulations. Another company with the same owner was given a loan by the government-owned Development Bank of Wales in 2023 when Gething was economy minister.

Gething has denied wrongdoing and said the donations were properly declared under electoral rules.

“I have never, ever made a decision, in more than a decade as a minister, for personal or financial gain,” he said Wednesday.

But the issue has not subsided. Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth cited the donations as a reason for ending his party’s agreement with Labour.

Ap Iorwerth said that Gething’s “lack of judgment and contrition, along with a bunker mentality … do not demonstrate the required skills set for the office holder of first minister.”

But Gething revealed bad blood within Welsh Labour when he fired government minister Hannah Blythyn for allegedly leaking private phone messages to the media.

Blythyn, who denied it, was one of two Labour lawmakers absent due to illness on Wednesday.

Vikki Howells, who heads the Labour group of lawmakers in the Senedd, said the Conservatives had refused to accept “pairing,” the tradition by which parties agree to have members abstain when opponents have to be absent.

The Conservatives said the pairing system isn’t normally used for votes on significant issues.

Gething criticized the tenor of the discussion about his conduct, saying that “like me, so many people of color have been traduced and vilified merely for raising concerns about how some of these debates have been handled.”

Wales, which has a population of about 3 million, is one of four parts of the United Kingdom, along with England, Scotland and Northern Ireland. The British government in London is responsible for defense, foreign affairs and other U.K.-wide issues, while administrations in Cardiff, Edinburgh and Belfast control areas such as education and health.