Wales politics

Neil McEvoy bids to rejoin Plaid Cymru

Neil McEvoy Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Neil McEvoy says his readmittance would give Plaid Cymru "tremendous opportunity" to beat Labour's first minister

One of the most controversial figures in Welsh nationalism has told BBC Wales he intends to return to the party that expelled him.

Neil McEvoy said Plaid Cymru would have a "tremendous opportunity" to win First Minister Mark Drakeford's Cardiff West assembly seat if it readmitted him.

But the independent assembly member could face significant opposition from Plaid AMs to rejoining their group.

Mr McEvoy's expulsion from Plaid Cymru ends on 19 March.

It will be up to a party committee to decide if he can be a member.

Last year the Cardiff-based politician was found guilty of misconduct over his allegedly disruptive behaviour at the 2017 Plaid Cymru spring conference.

He was expelled for 18 months, later cut to 12.

Mr McEvoy had already been kicked out of the Plaid Cymru assembly group after he demanded copies of correspondence about him from his colleagues.

A source at the time said the move had "crystallised the lack of trust" the assembly party group had with Mr McEvoy, who is also a Cardiff councillor.

In 2017 Mr McEvoy had been suspended from the council after a tribunal found a comment he made amounted to bullying behaviour.

Speaking to BBC Wales, the South Wales Central AM said: "I believe in Wales. I believe in everything the party stands for. We have a tremendous opportunity in Cardiff West to beat the first minister."

'Absurdity'

Mr McEvoy came within 1,176 votes of toppling Labour's Mark Drakeford in Cardiff West at the 2016 assembly election, and intends to try again in 2021.

He dismissed claims of "a breakdown of trust between myself and colleagues in the region, and in the party".

The AM acknowledged that the request for documents had caused upset, but said he had found it "impossible to get any kind of information of the complaints I was facing".

Pressed on whether he was sorry for anything that had happened at Plaid's 2017 spring party conference, he said: "Ultimately I was expelled for being welcomed to a conference by members, which was said to be disruptive, and secondly refusing to let the chair of the party edit my speech."

He pointed to a recent Cardiff Council by-election victory for Plaid Cymru in Ely, a ward that lies within the Cardiff West assembly seat.

"If anybody is going to turn down the opportunity of beating Labour's first minister... on the basis of me being welcomed to a conference, then frankly we are getting into the realms of absurdity," Mr McEvoy said.

Image caption Neil McEvoy cast doubt on whether there had been a breakdown of trust between him and Plaid Cymru

The matters of whether Neil McEvoy can rejoin the party and whether he can then rejoin its assembly group and become a Plaid AM are separate.

Sources have told BBC Wales that Plaid AMs would be likely to oppose his re-admittance to the group, which would be their decision.

One party source, while conceding his strength as a campaigner, thought Mr McEvoy would fail to win if the matter was put to a vote of the party's AMs.

"There would be considerable unhappiness about him being readmitted to the group," the source said.

"Some of us will find it difficult to work with him on a day-to-day basis."

A Plaid Cymru spokeswoman said: "Mr McEvoy's expulsion ends on 19 March 2019. Following that date he is permitted to re-apply.

"Like all individuals who would seek to re-apply to the party, his application will be referred to the membership, discipline and standards committee, as per standing orders."

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites