Wales politics

Leanne Wood silent on Plaid Cymru rebel Elis-Thomas

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood has refused to comment on how she will deal with Lord Elis-Thomas's defiance of the party.

Lord Elis-Thomas, who has twice led the party, stayed away from a vote of no-confidence in Health Minister Lesley Griffiths in the Senedd on Wednesday.

An internal investigation is under way, but Ms Wood said she did not want to "prejudice the outcome".

He has temporarily had the party's whip withdrawn.

The whip ensures elected politicians vote in the way the party wants. If the whip is withdrawn from an AM or MP, for example, it leaves them isolated and effectively makes them an independent politician.

A disciplinary panel - made up of Plaid AMs Elin Jones, Simon Thomas and Bethan Jenkins - is looking at whether further sanctions should be taken against Lord Elis-Thomas. They were chosen by drawing lots.

Ms Wood, who beat Lord Elis-Thomas in this year's Plaid leadership election, repeatedly declined to answer questions about him while launching a party report into the economy on Thursday.

Opposition parties united behind a motion of no-confidence in Mrs Griffiths in a row about a controversial report into reorganising hospitals.

'Prejudice before evidence'

But Lord Elis-Thomas was presiding at a graduation ceremony in Bangor University while the vote took place.

The Dwyfor Meirionnydd AM criticised his party's stance, saying it had put "prejudice before evidence".

Plaid MP Jonathan Edwards has said the AM must decide whether he wants to remain loyal to the party he led in the 1980s.

Lord Elis-Thomas is the assembly's former presiding officer, fulfilling the role for the first 12 years of devolution. He now chairs the cross-party environment and sustainability committee.

Plaid issued a statement on Tuesday night which said he failed to provide a satisfactory reason for his absence.

"As a result, the whip has been temporarily withdrawn from Dafydd Elis-Thomas without prejudice pending an internal process," it said.

On the BBC Radio Wales Phone In, First Minister Carwyn Jones was asked whether he would welcome Lord Elis-Thomas to his party.

He said: "We would welcome anybody who shared our values, there's no doubt about that and we would welcome anybody who supported the aims of a Labour Welsh government.

"We are not at that stage yet. We will have to wait to see how things develop in the battle within Plaid over the next few days."

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