Andrew RT Davies returns as Welsh Conservatives leader

By James Williams
BBC Politics Wales

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image captionAndrew RT Davies has taken over as leader of the Welsh Conservatives for the second time

Andrew RT Davies has been named as the new leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Senedd for a second time.

Mr Davies succeeds Paul Davies who resigned from his post on Saturday after drinking with other politicians in the Senedd, four days into a Wales-wide alcohol ban in licensed premises.

In a statement, Andrew RT Davies said it was "a great honour and privilege".

He has already announced his shadow cabinet, which includes four women.

There are no responsibilities for Paul Davies or Darren Millar, who also previously apologised for being part of the group who were drinking at the Senedd.

Mr Davies said his party "will put forward a positive plan to get Wales moving again" and "unleash our country's potential" at the Senedd election, scheduled for May.

'Spotlight on challenges'

"I'm pleased to have moved quickly this afternoon and announce my Welsh Conservative shadow cabinet which is built on the strong foundations of experience, talent and vision," he said.

"We are in a moment like no other, and the Covid-19 pandemic has sadly only served to shine a spotlight on the challenges in people's everyday lives.

"We shouldn't doubt our country's potential. Wales is full of ambitious people and communities that crave the opportunity to succeed."

The Conservatives' shadow cabinet reshuffle sees Angela Burns MS replace the new leader as shadow health minister and Mark Isherwood MS replace Darren Millar MS as chief whip.

David Melding MS has been appointed shadow minister for mental health, wellbeing, culture and sport.

Janet Finch-Saunders MS remains as shadow minister for environment, energy and rural affairs, and Suzy Davies MS in education, skills and Welsh language.

Laura Anne Jones MS stays as shadow minister for equalities, children and young people, but with extra responsibilities for housing and local government.

Russell George MS remains in the shadow cabinet, responsible for the economy, transport and mid Wales.

In 2018, Mr Davies, the Member of the Senedd for South Wales Central, quit as leader of the Conservative group after seven years in charge.

He was given the unanimous backing of fellow Welsh Conservatives in the Senedd.

Welsh secretary Simon Hart, MP for Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire, tweeted his congratulations to "a formidable campaigner".

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Who is Andrew RT Davies?

media captionFood for thought: Andrew RT Davies confuses Brexit with breakfast
  • Born in Cowbridge, Vale of Glamorgan 1968
  • Married with four children
  • Partner in the family farming business near Cowbridge
  • Joined the Welsh Conservative Party in 1997
  • Stood as a general election candidate in 2001 and 2005
  • First elected to the Welsh Assembly in 2007
  • Served as party spokesman on education, transport and health since July
  • Elected as assembly group leader in 2011 and 2021
  • Elected to Vale of Glamorgan council in 2019, alongside his duties as a MS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites.View original tweet on Twitter

Andrew RT Davies faced criticism earlier this month from former Tory politicians and Labour after comparing rioting in the US Congress to people who backed a second referendum on Brexit.

The deputy leader of the UK Labour Party said it was was a "disgrace that the Welsh Conservatives" had appointed "this Donald Trump tribute act" as leader.

Angela Rayner MP said: "Just weeks ago, Labour called on the Conservatives to suspend Andrew RT Davies and remove him as a candidate over his disgraceful and dangerous comments equating peaceful democratic debate in the UK with deadly violence at the US Capitol.

"The Conservative Party failed to act and he has refused to apologise.

"It is a disgrace that the Welsh Conservatives have just appointed him leader and their candidate for first minister of Wales.

"The people of Wales deserve so much better than this Donald Trump tribute act."

'Stripping Senedd of powers'

Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price MS said: "After a car crash the backseat driver returns to put Wales in reverse.

"Once rejected by his own Senedd team, he will now embark on his pet project of stripping our Senedd of powers and setting Welsh democracy back decades."

image captionPaul Davies quit on Saturday

His appointment comes just a day after Paul Davies stood down along with Tory MS Darren Millar, who was chief whip, in connection with the same incident.

Both have apologised for drinking alcohol with their meals on 8 and 9 December but both deny having broken the Covid-19 rules in place at the time.

Welsh Conservatives chairman Glyn Davies said: "They've both been friends of mine a long time but I could see the way the story was developing and I must say I think it was inevitable in the end.

"Obviously, I've been pretty disappointed with the position that we find ourselves in but this is politics and it's a challenge."

An investigation by the Senedd's authorities found five people, including four members of the Welsh Parliament, drank alcohol on its premises during the Wales-wide alcohol ban.

A third member of the Senedd, Labour's Alun Davies, apologised earlier in the week and has been suspended by his party.

BBC Wales has asked for clarification as to the identity of the fourth Senedd member investigators have referred to.

Paul Smith, the Tory group chief of staff, was the fifth person involved.

The Senedd has referred the "possible breach" of Covid rules to Cardiff council and its own standards watchdog.

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