Welsh Tories have re-appointed Andrew RT Davies as their group leader in the Senedd following the resignation of Paul Davies in a row over lockdown rules.
Paul Davies announced he was standing down on Saturday following the disclosure that he was among a group of politicians who drank alcohol on the Senedd estate days after a pub alcohol ban came into force.
While he insisted that he had not broken any rules, he said he was standing aside as the issue had become a “distraction”.
His successor led the Tory group in the Senedd for seven years before he quit in 2018 amid a row over Brexit.
The group chairman Janet Finch-Saunders said his re-appointment had been unanimously endorsed at a group meeting on Sunday.
In a statement Andrew RT Davies said his appointment was “a great honour and privilege” and paid tribute to the the work of his predecessor.
“I’m pleased to enjoy the unanimous support of my colleagues to take us forward after a difficult few days for us all,” he said.
“There is urgent work in front of all of us and our immediate focus will be continuing to hold the Labour administration in the Senedd to account on vital issues such as the vaccine rollout, and fighting May’s election.”
But Angela Rayner, Labour ‘s deputy leader, criticised the appointment, which came weeks after Mr Davies accused Sir Keir Starmer of campaigning to “overturn democracy” in a response to the Labour leader’s condemnation of the mob invasion of the US Capitol.
She said: “Just weeks ago, Labour called on the Conservatives to suspend Andrew RT Davies and remove him as a candidate over his disgraceful and dangerous comments equating peaceful democratic debate in the UK with deadly violence at the US Capitol.
“The Conservative Party failed to act and he has refused to apologise.
“It is a disgrace that the Welsh Conservatives have just appointed him leader and their candidate for First Minister of Wales.
“The people of Wales deserve so much better than this Donald Trump tribute act.”
And Plaid Cymru leader Adam Price said: “After a car crash the backseat driver returns to put Wales in reverse.
“Once rejected by his own Senedd team, he will now embark on his pet project of stripping our Senedd of powers and setting Welsh democracy back decades.”