Senedd defection and another departure announced

Caroline Jones MS has defected for the third time this term, opting to sit as an Independent after leaving the Brexit Party group over their stance on devolution.

The party group leader, Mark Reckless, has suggested abolishing the Senedd and replacing it with a directly-elected First Minister accountable to a committee of MPs.

Announcing her decision, Caroline Jones said: “Their (BXP) current stance is one of an anti-devolution Party which is against my principles. My belief is Westminster doesn’t provide all the answers and while devolution in Wales has a long way to go before it is truly representative of the people of Wales, it is something which the majority of people in our country voted for on numerous occasions.”

Caroline Jones – a former Conservative Police & Crime Commissioner candidate and originally elected to the Senedd in 2016 as a UKIP member – left UKIP in 2018 and sat as an Independent after criticising the party’s shift to the far-right before joining the newly-formed Brexit Party group in 2019.

She also declared her intention to stand as an Independent candidate in the Bridgend constituency in 2021.

Elsewhere, Bethan Sayed MS (Plaid, South Wales West) announced she will stand down at next year’s Senedd election, citing a lack of family-friendly working conditions for full-time politicians. Ironically, a few days later the Senedd was named one of the top employees for family-friendly practices when it comes to Senedd Commission staff, but that doesn’t apply to elected members who aren’t employed by anyone.

She had previously argued for a job-share arrangement for new parents, saying that if such an arrangement was in place: “I may have felt more able and comfortable juggling my work as a politician and being a new mother….Many people wish to believe that Welsh politics is family-friendly. I don’t think it is yet, sadly, there is still a long way to go.”

Plaid Cymru leader, Adam Price MS (Plaid, Carms. E. & Dinefwr) said she had “stood out as a tireless campaigner in her region and beyond, fighting on behalf of the workers of Ford, Visteon and Tata Steel”.

The news means at least five sitting MSs will be standing down next May.