Plaid Cymru defends cooperation agreement and ability to act as opposition

Thursday is the first official day of a three-year partnership between Welsh Labour and Plaid Cymru

Plaid Cymru has defended its role in the cooperation agreement with the Welsh Labour Government, amid criticism it will no longer be able to function as a party of opposition. 

The parties officially signed an agreement on Wednesday, marking the start of a three-year partnership.

They will work together to jointly develop and oversee the delivery of 46 policy areas which includes the extension of free school meals to all primary school pupils, the creation of a national care service and immediate action to address the second homes crisis.

However, Welsh Conservatives have criticised the deal and questioned whether Plaid Cymru Senedd Members will be able to perform their roles of scrutinising government decisions. 

The UK Government’s Secretary of State for Wales called the deal an “absolute travesty” and questioned the inclusion of special advisers who will take part in government decision making while still being described as an opposition.

Mr Hart said: “Forget the legalities of it, it seems to me to be very curious when you can be both government and opposition at the same time in the same building, and I'm amazed.”

On Wednesday, Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price appointed Arfon MS Sian Gwenllian as the lead designated member of the Co-operation Agreement.

Some Labour Senedd Members have called into question how new roles such as Ms Gwenllian’s will be scrutinised. 

Caerphilly MS Hefin David tweeted: “There is no constitutional role for a ‘Lead Designated Member’, whatever that may be.

“You are either a government minister or you aren’t. New roles should be clearly defined and agreed by a vote of the whole Senedd.”

Defending the agreement and the party’s role in it, a spokesperson for Plaid Cymru described it as mature politics in the interest of the people of Wales.

They continued: "The Co-operation Agreement allows Plaid Cymru to continue to scrutinise the Welsh Government on all aspects of its Programme for Government whilst acting on some of our ambitious policies such as free school meals for all primary pupils and free childcare for all two-year-olds.

“This agreement demonstrates constructive, mature politics which works in the interest of the people of Wales. It is therefore little wonder that a Conservative UK Government Minister can’t bring himself to welcome it.”

Signing the agreement with Adam Price on Wednesday, Mark Drakeford said: “Over the next three years, the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru will work together to jointly develop and deliver the policies set out in this Co-operation Agreement.

“This is a bespoke agreement to deliver for Wales but it also captures how Welsh politics works – by finding common ground and sharing good ideas.

“I look forward to working in partnership on this ambitious programme.”