What’s next for Carwyn Jones?

The First Minister has been cleared by one inquiry, but now faces another.

NS

Sign Up

Get the New Statesman's Morning Call email.

Carwyn Jones has been cleared of misleading the Welsh Assembly about what he knew, and when he knew it, about the allegations of bullying at the heart of his administration.

Following the suicide of Carl Sargeant, who was sacked from the Welsh Cabinet by Jones after allegations of sexual harassment were made against him, former minister Leighton Andrews claimed in a blog that there was a culture of bullying on the “fifth floor” – where senior ministers, including Jones himself, work – of which Sargeant was the victim.

Jones was also accused of knowing about, but not acting to address, this bullying culture, which, if true, would have meant that the statements he made to the Welsh Assembly in 2014 and 2017 were untruthful. The inquiry, however, has found that there was no evidence that this was the case.

The results of the inquiry are a fillip to the First Minister, as they not only show that he spoke truthfully to Welsh parliamentarians, but call into question whether or not the allegations against him were fair.

But Jones still faces an ongoing inquiry into the incident that kicked off his present difficulties: the allegations of sexual harassment made against Carl Sargeant and his subsequent sacking as a Cabinet minister. Sargeant died by suicide thereafter. Jones maintains that he did things “by the book” and his allies are privately certain that they will be validated when the inquiry is concluded.

If that is the case, the expectation of several well-placed Labour sources, both within the administration and Welsh Labour, is that Jones will call time on his leadership shortly after. He is approaching a decade in power, and will, with his new system of a deputy leader and the powers of the Welsh Labour leader codified (he now has a representative of his choosing on Labour’s ruling national executive, just as the Labour leader at Westminster does) it will be a good time to leave validated and with his legacy intact.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman and the PSA's Journalist of the Year. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics.