Wales politics

Elis-Thomas back in Plaid Cymru group after vote row

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has announced no further disciplinary action will be taken against former leader Lord Elis-Thomas.

He was suspended from Plaid's assembly group after missing a vote in the Senedd chamber.

Ms Wood said the whip would be restored to him and called off a disciplinary panel that was being set up to investigate his case.

Lord Elis-Thomas said he was "studying this unexpected statement".

'Lapdogs'

He was presiding over a Bangor University graduation ceremony on Wednesday while other Plaid AMs joined the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives for a no-confidence vote in Health Minister Lesley Griffiths.

Ms Griffiths survived the motion over a report into hospital reorganisation.

Lord Elis-Thomas criticised his party for acting like the Tories' "lapdogs".

Plaid temporarily withdrew the whip, meaning he was suspended from the party's group in Cardiff Bay.

A panel of three AMs was due to meet to discuss his case on Monday, but Ms Wood called it off on Friday.

Rivals tried to make the row a test of authority for Ms Wood, who beat Lord Elis-Thomas to the Plaid leadership in March.

He led the party as an MP in the 1980s and spent 12 years as the assembly's presiding officer.

First Minister Carwyn Jones hinted he would be welcomed into the Labour Party.

Lord Elis-Thomas said he thought about defecting, but ruled out the idea because of the support of Plaid members in his Dwyfor Meirionnydd constituency.

Senior sources in Plaid insisted the group had no alternative but to withdraw the whip. They hope a line has been drawn under recent events and said "the ball is in Dafydd's court".

Ms Wood issued a statement at the end of a "damaging" week, saying she would be writing to her 10 fellow Plaid AMs explaining how she expected them to operate.

"Although I do not agree with him, I respect the fact that Dafydd Elis-Thomas does not share the group's long-held views on protecting core health services at community level, and to have ministerial accountability for the decisions made," she said.

This was the first time the whip has been withdrawn from a Plaid AM, she told reporters in Cardiff Bay, adding: "I do not expect, and will not accept, the party being placed in this position again."

Members who disagreed with the rest of the group on a matter of conscience should discuss it with other Plaid AMs so an agreement can be reached, she said.

"It is not and never will be acceptable that statements are made to the press before they are shared within the party team," she said.

She paid tribute to Lord Elis-Thomas's contribution to Wales and the party, adding that his future role was a matter for him and that she would respect his wishes.

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