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Last Updated: Wednesday, 18 July 2007, 17:44 GMT 18:44 UK
Labour assembly minister sacked
Huw Lewis
Huw Lewis has been Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney AM since 1999
Deputy Economy and Transport Minister Huw Lewis has lost his Welsh Assembly Government job, he has revealed.

The Labour Merthyr AM said he seemed to be the only ministerial casualty of the new Labour-Plaid Cymru coalition.

He spoke before any official news of talks between First Minister Rhodri Morgan and Plaid leader Ieuan Wyn Jones on the shape of the new government.

He said he had privately opposed the coalition, but he was "disappointed and not a little surprised" to be sacked.

An official announcement from the assembly government about the reshuffle is expected on Thursday.

I can only conclude that sincerely held views, privately expressed and shared by a large section of our party, are reason enough to be replaced in government
Huw Lewis AM

After the reshuffle which followed this year's election, there are seven Labour cabinet ministers - including Mr Morgan - and Mr Lewis was one of five deputy Labour ministers.

As part of the new coalition, there is speculation that Plaid will have at least three ministerial posts. BBC Wales political correspondents said it was believed Plaid could get the main economy and transport cabinet job, which is currently held by Brian Gibbons.

Mr Lewis, aged 43, was assistant general secretary of the Welsh Labour Party before he was elected to the assembly in 1999.

'Disappointed at signal'

He suggested he would be the only minister to lose their job in the reshuffle and was disappointed at the signal this might send to the wider Labour Party.

He said he was "pretty sure" his dismissal was "not because of any issue of competence, so I can only think it must be because of my views on the coalition".

Asked whether he would now be a troublemaker, he said no, as that would amount to "self-indulgence".

Rhodri Morgan and Ieuan Wyn Jones
Rhodri Morgan and Ieuan Wyn Jones have been in talks

He would continue to be loyal to Labour, but would now be "free to make public comment".

In a statement, he said: "Throughout recent weeks I have maintained my loyalty to both the Welsh Labour Party and to the Welsh Assembly Government, although at times it would have been easier to speak out.

"Any objections I had to a deal with Plaid Cymru as a preferred option of government were sincerely held and voiced only in the privacy of Labour group meetings.

"I can only conclude that sincerely held views, privately expressed and shared by a large section of our party, are reason enough to be replaced in government."

He has previously been deputy minister for social justice with special responsibility for communities.

He is married to Lynne Neagle, the AM for nearby Torfaen. Although Mr Lewis had not voiced public opposition to the coalition, Ms Neagle was the first Labour AM to speak out before the deal was struck, quickly followed by three others.

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