Wales politics

Leanne Wood 'seriously considering' Rhondda election fight

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Media captionPlaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said she is confident of her party winning Rhondda "whether I'm the candidate or not"

Leanne Wood is seriously considering putting herself forward for the parliamentary seat of Rhondda, Plaid Cymru sources have told BBC Wales.

Speculation is mounting that the party leader will stand against Labour's Chris Bryant in the general election.

She has not ruled out the move, which would trigger both an assembly by-election and a leadership contest if she won.

Potential rival Mr Bryant did not want to comment.

Ms Wood took the seat of Rhondda from Labour in the 2016 assembly election when she beat Leighton Andrews, a former Welsh Government minister.

The party leader refused to tell BBC Radio Wales in an interview if she wanted to be on the ballot paper.

She said she had "not ruled anything in or anything out".

Image caption Labour's Chris Bryant has been MP for Rhondda since 2001

Asked on Good Evening Wales why she would not stop the speculation, she said: "We are taking a responsible approach. We're looking at all the options that we have."

"We are discussing things over the next few days and over the weekend," she said.

Under existing Plaid Cymru rules, Ms Wood would also have to stand down as a leader if she left the assembly.

She admitted to the BBC that such a move would be a gamble and, when asked if she was prepared to stop being leader of Plaid, she said rules "can be changed".

It is understood the assembly commission has advised AMs that, because there is no assembly election within the next 372 days, any AMs elected to be MPs on 8 June would automatically lose their assembly seat.

A party insider has told BBC Wales Ms Wood was genuinely considering standing in Rhondda.

Another Plaid Cymru source said Ms Wood expected other strong potential candidates to seek the Rhondda nomination.

They said the leader did not want to rule anything in or out at this stage before there is an idea of who would be interested in representing the party in the seat.

Image copyright Plaid Cymru
Image caption Leanne Wood celebrating with her team after winning the seat of Rhondda in 2016

One party figure thought Ms Wood could win, but added: "The question then is, could we hold Rhondda for the assembly?"

But there were good people who could return it for Plaid, the source said.

Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards said he would welcome Ms Wood to Westminster.

"I'd be delighted to have her here," he told BBC Wales, "if she decided to come here".

On Wednesday, Mr Bryant tweeted he was standing for election again in the seat "because every fibre of my body opposes what [Theresa] May wants to do to this great country".

Dafydd Wigley, a former Plaid leader, told BBC Wales the party should consider fielding "high-profile" people in the general election for the party to secure the momentum the party needs to drive its agenda forward.


Analysis by BBC Welsh affairs editor Vaughan Roderick

My gut feeling is Leanne Wood will decide not to stand in Rhondda.

However, I am cautious and Leanne Wood has previously shown she is prepared to take risks - she is prepared to gamble.

There is a feeling in Plaid Cymru with regard to Rhondda of "if not now, when?".

Some party insiders feel that if they cannot take the seat at a Westminster election now, then it is a case of never.

Leanne Wood would be a very strong candidate to challenge the very experienced sitting Labour MP Chris Bryant - but if she won would she really want to go to Westminster?

Do not forget that there is a nightmare scenario for Plaid Cymru.

Leanne Wood could fail to win the seat at a general election and seriously damage her personal brand.

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