THE First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford MS has resigned with immediate effect. The announcement has come as a shock for some as the Leader of Welsh Labour was not scheduled to stand down until 2024.
A Leadership contest will now begin to find the next First Minister of Wales.
Mr Drakeford has been First Minister for five years and steered Wales during the Pandemic taking a different course to that of the UK Government.
Mr Drakeford has come under fire for Welsh Labour’s record on the NHS and education system in Wales.
Speaking at a press conference Mr Drakeford said: “When I stood for the leadership, I said that, if elected, I would serve for five years. Exactly five years have passed since I was confirmed as first minister in 2018.”
The First Minister said it had been a”huge privilege to lead both the Welsh Labour Party and the Welsh government”.
Party Leaders at the Senedd have issued statements.Commenting, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats Jane Dodds MS said:
“I’d like to personally thank the First Minister for his leadership and dedication to Wales throughout his five years in the role.
Whether you disagree or not with the First Minister and his government’s decisions, it would be untrue to say that Mark has lacked any passion for his job.
Throughout his time in office, he was provided consistent and clear leadership that has steered this country through some difficult times and for that we owe him a debt of gratitude.
On a personal level, Mark has shown nothing but kindness and support to me throughout my time in the Senedd and for that I will forever be grateful.
I wish him all the very best in his future endeavours.
My message to the new First Minister is a simple one, set a new vision for Wales.
We as a nation are facing multiple crises, in our NHS, our schools, our economy and with the cost of living.
We desperately need fresh ideas and a real drive to radically change the future of our country for the better.”
Plaid Cymru Leader Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said:
“As he announces his departure I recognise and pay tribute to the First Minister’s dedication to public life and in particular the tone of his leadership through the pandemic.
“We have been able to build a constructive relationship in delivering transformative policies through the Co-Operation agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru. Be it with Mark Drakeford or his successor, our priority has been and will be to deliver for Wales. That will continue to be our guiding principle.
“When he took office, the First Minister spoke of the opportunities that came with the position of Leading the Welsh Government. Regrettably, those opportunities have been squandered, resulting in longer waiting lists, falling educational standards and a stagnant economy.
“The First Minister told me in the Senedd yesterday that the question of his successor was “nothing to do” with me. But who can become First Minister through an internal Labour party election matters to all of us.
“However, whoever is in charge of Labour in Wales, there’s no taking away from the fact that they take their orders from Keir Starmer, who has a blind spot to Wales’ and offers nothing to address our needs and aspirations.
“Unlike other parties, Plaid Cymru will always prioritise fairness and ambition for Wales.
Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, Jo Stevens MP said:
“Mark Drakeford has epitomised public service and public duty throughout his time as First Minister of Wales. His remarkable stewardship of Wales through the horror of the pandemic being the most obvious example.
Leading our country with care, skill and values firmly rooted in our Labour principles of social justice and progressive politics, he has dedicated so much of his life to bringing positive change to the people of Wales.
Mark has been there throughout our devolution journey, both as an architect and a builder. He has been instrumental in Welsh Labour’s electoral success throughout the last 25 years and has earned the respect of opponents across the political spectrum.
As Mark ends his term as Welsh Labour Leader, I thank him for his leadership, his friendship and his outstanding contribution to Wales.”
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