Wales politics

Brexit blamed for 'poisonous' atmosphere in the Senedd

Image caption The assembly's home in Cardiff Bay is known as the Senedd

Brexit has been blamed for creating a "poisonous" atmosphere in the Senedd by a number of AMs.

Plaid Cymru's Leanne Wood said there has been a noticeable deterioration in the Welsh Assembly, with exchanges there less civilised.

Labour's Llanelli AM Mr Waters believes this a reflection of the division in broader society caused by Brexit.

It follows almost three years of heated debate in the House of Commons around the UK's exit from the EU.

Image caption Plaid Cymru's Leanne Wood has noticed "less civilised" exchanges

In the Senedd recently, Blaenau Gwent AM Alun Davies referenced a tweet from former UKIP and now Tory South Wales East AM Mark Reckless.

It read: "We won, you lost. If you block Brexit and democracy you will reap what you sow."

Mr Davies said: "That is the language that leads to threats to my partner (Cardiff North MP Anna McMorrin); it's what leads to police officers in my home, protecting my family, and it is your language that's doing that.

"And by doing so, you undermine our democracy and you should be deeply, deeply ashamed of yourself."

Image copyright Labour
Image caption Alun Davies had an angry exchange with Mark Reckless during plenary in the Welsh Assembly

English-born Mr Reckless said he was "attacked" by Mr Davies for being "a visitor" and a "liar", saying: "Nothing is done about it. That is not democracy and that is not how a parliament should operate."

He also received abuse on Twitter for being English after questioning the changing of the name of the Welsh Assembly to the Senedd.

"I've had rape threats and death threats [online] and to be fair the police have been good but most fall just below that line," Ms Wood told the Sunday Politics Wales programme.

The Rhondda AM said the "poisonous atmosphere online" has now infiltrated into the chamber of the Welsh Assembly.

"It's noticeable... some people accused the assembly of being boring, but we've got used to having a more civilised debate," she added.

Image caption AMs believe the atmosphere in the Senedd chamber has become more hostile

Mr Waters said the "hostile atmosphere" makes him "uncomfortable and upset", adding: "If things are souring here it's a reflection of broader society."

He added: "It's really worrying because after this is all over, it's going to be very difficult to put all this back together again.

"Divisions are out there and its going to be very hard to but the genie back in the bottle."

Former First Minister Carwyn Jones called on social media companies to changes their practices - saying much of the abuse stems from exchanges online.

"We need to get back to normal politics....go back to non-threatening discourse," he said.

"Social media companies have copped out and the least they can do is protect vulnerable people and prosecute them [those posting online abuse]."

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