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Alun Michael no longer shortest serving First Minister after Northern Ireland FM steps down

04 Feb 2022 2 minute read
Wales’ former First Secretary Alun Michael is now the PCC for South Wales. Picture by Daniel McDonald (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Wales’ Alun Michael is no longer the shortest-serving First Minister in the history of the UK after the First Minister of Northern Ireland resigned today.

Alun Michael was in office for 273 days between the 12th of May 1999 and the 9th of February 2000. He served until the title First Secretary of Wales before it was changed to First Minister by his successor,

But his record for the shortest tenure has now been beaten by Paul Givan of Northern Ireland who served for 232 days between 17th June 2021 and midnight this morning.

Paul Givan’s resignation is part of the Democratic Unionist Party’s (DUP) protest against the Northern Ireland Protocol, and he may yet return to continue in the role at a later date.

Alun Michael unexpectedly resigned from his post in February 2000 before a vote of no confidence called by Plaid Cymru could take place.

Announcing his resignation in the then Assembly, he said: “It cannot be right for Plaid Cymru to choose who leads Labour. Nor is it right for the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats to connive with that purpose.

“That is why I have decided to put the choice back clearly with the Labour party by resigning as first secretary with immediate effect.”

He later lost the vote of no confidence by 31 votes to 27 with one abstention, and was succeeded by Rhodri Morgan who served as First Minister for almost 10 years.

Rhodri Morgan’s tenure at nine years and 304 days is currently the longest a First Minister has been in power in the UK, narrowly beating his predecessor Carwyn Jones who was in the post for nine years and two days.

Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, has been in her post for over seven years.

Alun Michael went on to become the South Wales Police and Crime Commissioner and has now been in the post for almost 10 years since November 2012.

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