Wales politics

Emergency talks over shadow cabinet sackings

Andrew RT Davies Image copyright PA
Image caption Andrew RT Davies sacked four members of his shadow cabinet on Wednesday

Emergency talks have been held by the Welsh Conservative board on the controversial sacking of four shadow cabinet members, BBC Wales understands.

They were sacked this week by Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies.

It is understood the conference call on Friday was arranged to allow members to express "concern and anger" at Mr Davies's actions.

A senior figure said there was no support on the board for Mr Davies, who has led the party in Wales since 2011.

The source said some board members were even threatening to attempt to deselect their leader as a candidate in the 2016 assembly election.

Another source told BBC Wales that there was "100% universal criticism" of Mr Davies's decision, and that although he continued to argue that the sackings were the right course of action, he had "zero support" and was "completely isolated".

BBC Wales has been told by numerous sources that at least one AM who retained his frontbench position was "considering his position" and may resign from the shadow cabinet.

However, Byron Davies, the AM for South Wales West, said he would not be making any statements on Friday.

Should a member of the new shadow cabinet resign from the front bench, it would throw the leadership of Mr Davies into crisis.

The party would then have to consider the leadership question before May's European parliamentary election, as well as the next general election in 2015 and the assembly election in 2016.

The board of management is made up of a selection of senior Conservatives and is in charge of the day-to-day running of the party in Wales.

'Modern voice'

A spokesman for the Welsh Conservative Party said: "We do not comment on internal party matters."

A spokesman for the Conservative group in the assembly said: "We do not recognise these bizarre comments, which are entirely anonymous and source-led.

"This is a weak story, based around unnamed sources.

"The Welsh Conservatives are united in providing a strong and modern voice for Wales and a real alternative to a lazy Labour government that has run out of ideas."

Russell George, Conservative AM for Montgomeryshire and shadow minister for agriculture and natural resources, told BBC Radio Wales that he had heard about the comments following the meeting, although he had not attended it.

He said: "They have come from an anonymous source and it's always interesting for the media when you have an anonymous source."

Nick Ramsay, Antoinette Sandbach, Mohammad Asghar and Janet Finch-Saunders were dismissed from the shadow cabinet on Wednesday for rebelling against Mr Davies in a vote on devolving income tax.

Mr Davies is critical of the model of income tax powers in the process of being devolved from Westminster.

The four failed to vote in a Senedd motion criticising the model.

Asked on Thursday if there was a risk his group of AMs would be divided as a result of the sackings, Mr Davies said: "I very much hope not."

Mr Davies has been involved in a public disagreement with Welsh Secretary David Jones over the model of income tax powers in the process of being devolved from Westminster to Cardiff Bay.

The deal on offer to the Welsh government is called the lockstep, because any changes up or down would have to be mirrored across all the different bands.

The result is that a Welsh government would not be able to target a higher rate or basic rate payer.

Mr Davies, like First Minister Carwyn Jones, has been strongly critical of the model, while David Jones has supported it.

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