'This won't end well for any of those involved' Why the pressure continues to mount on Senedd members

Conservative leader in the Senedd Paul Davies received the backing for him to stay in his post

The decision by the Welsh Conservative group in the Senedd to support Paul Davies staying in post as their leader has astonished not just their opponents but many within the wider party, even before reports of another gathering began to emerge. 

A tense meeting of the Welsh Conservative board, the body in charge of the party here, has been going on throughout the day. 

I'm told that senior figures taking part expressed their hope the matter would be resolved and were said to be hugely disappointed that it wasn't - which suggests that many expected things to have gone in a different direction today, namely: resignations. 

One board member said they had never seen such a backlash from members and local councillors. 

But then those on the board are hearing what I'm hearing. By text, email, phone call, WhatsApp and Twitter messages, Conservatives are venting their anger. 

I can't share most of them without using so many asterisks in place of expletives that they wouldn't make sense!

"They must be absolutely thick" is one of the gentler criticisms of the Senedd Group. "Had they seen the Commission's report before they backed him?"

A report said alcohol was consumed by five individuals in the Senedd’s licensed tearoom, four of whom are elected members.

This refers to the Senedd Commission report which found that a possible breach of Covid rules may have taken place and referred the members to the Standards Commissioner. "It's all about self interest now," said another long-standing activist. "The party means nothing to them."

And another said, "The police should be contacted and they should be dealt with like all other people who breach."

None of these have yet gone public but some of them have written to the party's Welsh chairman, the former MP Glyn Davies, putting their view forcefully.

The problem is the opaque and confusing structure of the Conservative party. Paul Davies is directly elected by members but only as leader of the Senedd group.

Glyn Davies as Chair, and the Welsh board, also have power - but not decisive power to suspend or compel. 

Even so, I gather pressure continues on Paul Davies to take the step himself and resign. 

As of yesterday, the Prime Minister hadn't spoken to the Welsh leader but his press secretary Allegra Stratton made clear the anger at the party's highest level when she said, "As we've said many times before, the Prime Minister expects everybody, no matter their standing, no matter their status, to be sticking to the rules as well as they are able."

Things aren't going to get any easier for Paul Davies. As well as anger within the party he now faces a Standards Commissioner investigation and a potential police investigation if laws were broken. 

Opponents will keep the pressure on too - every time he speaks on any other topic and what's more, he is supposed to be leading his party into an election which, as things stand, is due to take place in just over three months time. 

Alun Davies, Darren Millar, Paul Davies, and the Conservative chief of staff Paul Smith allegedly consumed alcohol on the Senedd estate Credit: PA

A lot of the focus is on the Conservatives because of the seniority of those involved but the position is just as difficult for the Labour member involved. 

If Alun Davies remains suspended by close of nominations which is 19 days before the election, he can't stand as a candidate. 

In practice, Labour officials say that the situation would need to be resolved well in advance of that date. 

That's some way off, but I'm told some members in Blaenau Gwent have discussed trying to deselect him and think about finding a replacement. 

This won't end well for any of those involved.