Alun Cairns has resigned as Welsh Secretary, minutes before the Prime Minister Boris Johnson launched the Conservatives’ election campaign.
However, Alun Cairns said he intended to remain as the candidate in the Vale of Glamorgan at the General Election on 12 December.
He had been Welsh Secretary since 2016 and had served three prime ministers in the role.
His resignation came after a rape victim called on a UK cabinet minister to quit after his former aide “sabotaged” her trial.
Ross England had made claims about the victim’s sexual history in an April 2018 trial which led to its collapse.
Alun Cairns denied any knowledge of the matter but the BBC Wales said it had seen an email sent to him in August 2018 mentioning the matter.
In a message to the Prime Minister, he said that he would cooperate with an investigation under the Ministerial Code and was “confident of being cleared of any wrongdoing”.
“You will be aware of allegations relating to the actions of a Party employee and candidate for the Welsh Assembly elections in the Vale of Glamorgan,” he wrote.
“This is a very sensitive matter, and in light of continued speculation, I write to tender my resignation as the Secretary of State for Wales.
“I will continue to work to support your vision and ambitions for the country and am grateful for the honour of serving in your Cabinet.”
Welsh Conservative leader Paul Davies AM said that resigning was the right decision.
“I am sorry to see Alun resign today as the Secretary of State for Wales however, under the circumstances this was the right decision for him,” he said.
“Alun has rightly stated that he will cooperate fully with any investigations.
“I would like to thank Alun for his service to Wales as our Secretary of State where he brought an end to the Severn Bridge Tolls which will leave a lasting legacy on the Welsh economy.”
In his response, Mr Johnson said he was extremely grateful for all the work Alun Cairns had done in the role as Secretary of State since March 2016.
“In particular, I would like to put on record my gratitude for all the support you have given to this government in ensuring we honour the commitment to the people that we leave the European Union,” he said.
“Given your long service as Secretary of State, you can be proud of your record of delivery for the people of Wales, in particular in ensuring the abolition of tolls on the Severn bridges.”
Reacting to Alun Cairns’ resignation, Plaid Cymru’s Westminster leader Liz Saville Roberts said he should also withdraw from the Vale of Glamorgan election.
“I hope that Alun Cairns’ resignation as Secretary of State proves to be some solace to the woman at the centre of this case, who still has received no apology from the Conservative party,” she said.
“Mr Cairns’ conduct proved unquestionably that he is not fit to hold ministerial office. You simply cannot be complicit in the attempted cover up of sabotaging a rape trial and hope to get away with it.
“Such conduct is neither befitting of a government minister, nor of a member of parliament. Mr Cairns should do the honourable thing and withdraw from the election – and if he doesn’t, the Conservative party should insist he withdraws.”
Welsh Labour also called on Alun Cairns to step down as a candidate.
“Alun Cairns stepping down as Secretary of State is far from the end of the matter, and is a shoddy halfway house that will fool nobody,” Christina Rees, the Shadow Secretary of State for Wales said.
“He has still not explained his behaviour and still not addressed the grave issues raised by the leaked emails yesterday. Worse still, neither he nor any senior Welsh Tory have apologised to one person who most deserves it – the victim herself.
“He should do the right thing – apologise, and step down as a candidate.”