Liberal Democrats nearly wiped out in Wales after losing only constituency seat to Conservatives

  • James Evans says his win shows the Liberal Democrats are "a failing party"

The Liberal Democrats have lost their only constituency seat in the Senedd as the Welsh Conservatives claimed Brecon and Radnorshire in the 2021 election.

James Evans won by a majority of 3,820, beating the Liberal Democrats' candidate William Powell - who was an Assembly Member for the Mid and West Wales region between 2011-16.  

Kirsty Williams had held Brecon and Radnorshire for the Lib Dems since 1999 but announced after "careful consideration", she would not be standing for re-election this year.

Ms Williams has been the Welsh Government’s Education Minister since 2016 but said she was "looking forward to spending more time" with her family.

The Liberal Democrats did however win one regional seat for Mid and West Wales. Jane Dodds, the party leader claimed that seat.

Kirsty Williams has held the seat for the Lib Dems since 1999.

In his acceptance speech, James Evans thanked Kirsty Williams for her "years of service she has given to the people of Brecon and Radnorshire". He added that this was "the biggest honour" of his life.

He said: "I want to thank every single person across Brecon and Radnorshire who I have met and spoke to, on the phone, socially-distanced, right across the constituency. Thank you very very much for putting your faith in me to be your next Senedd member for the next five years."

William, known as Bill, Powell spoke after Mr Evans, also paying tribute to Kirsty Williams for representing the constituency with "distinction and at considerable personal cost".

Mr Powell thanked his team and said "this is a time of challenge for the Welsh Liberal Democrats" but added that his party has "a very strong base on which to build" for the 2022 Powys County Council elections.

The Liberal Democrats lost their only constituency seat as the Welsh Conservatives claimed Brecon & Radnorshire from candidate Bill Powell.

Brecon and Radnorshire is a rural constituency in mid Wales, representing the Brecon Beacons, Builth Wells, Llandrindod Wells and Crickhowell. 

Politically, it has been a two-horse race between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. 

Speaking to ITV News in the run-up to polling day, James Evans said he was hoping to make electoral history by winning the seat for his party.

When asked if Wales should have its own government, he answered: “I think Wales should have its own government but the problem is it’s been run by the same party for twenty two years. We need to see a change. The Senedd needs radical overhaul, there’s too much waste. 

“We need to see the Senedd slim down, more decisions being made by local government and councils and having proper devolution and not everything centralised to Cardiff Bay.”

Mr Evans was the youngest local authority cabinet member in Wales when he was elected as a Powys County Councillor in 2017. He grew up on his family's farm in the Brecon and Radnorshire constituency.