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Mark Drakeford changes health ministers in sweeping post-election reshuffle

13 May 2021 5 minutes Read
Mark Drakeford the First Minister of Wales. Picture by the Welsh Government

Wales’ First Minister Mark Drakeford has announced a sweeping reshuffle.

After leading the response to the pandemic over the last 15 months and serving as Health Minister for five years, Vaughan Gething is appointed Economy Minister.

Eluned Morgan becomes Minister for Health and Social Services, with a specific focus on NHS recovery and the pandemic response.

Jeremy Miles becomes Minister for Education and the Welsh Language, overseeing the introduction of Wales’ new curriculum and the biggest ever catch-up programme in schools.

The big surprise is that Ken Skates, formerly the Economci and Transport Minister, returns to the backbenches to “focus on strengthening Welsh Labour in north Wales in preparation for next year’s local government elections and the next UK Parliamentary election”.

Meanwhile, Mick Antoniw becomes Counsel General and Minister for the Constitution. He had two days ago called for Home Rules for Wales.

The First Minister however emphasised climate change in his reshuffle announcement, combining environment, energy housing, planning and transport portfolios, led by Julie James.

“The environment will be at the heart of our decision-making,” he said. “The climate change emergency has not gone away while we have been dealing with the pandemic.

“Wales is a beautiful country with immense natural assets, which will help power our recovery and create the jobs of the future.

“In my new government, the environment doesn’t just have a seat at the Cabinet table, it will be a consideration in all we do.”

‘Determined’

Two-thirds of the new Cabinet are women. Dawn Bowden joins the government as Deputy Minister for the Arts and Sport in the economy portfolio. She also becomes the Chief Whip.

Lesley Griffiths becomes Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales and Trefnydd.

Lynne Neagle becomes Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing. Lynne is the former chair of the Senedd’s Children, Young People and Education Committee who has championed children’s and young people’s mental health. Julie Morgan remains in her role as Deputy Minister for Social Services.

Jane Hutt becomes Minister for Social Justice and Hannah Blythyn becomes Deputy Minister for Social Partnership.

Rebecca Evans retains the post of Finance Minister but, with important local elections just a year away, adds local government to her portfolio.

First Minister Mark Drakeford added: “The new Cabinet is ready to get to work to set Wales on the path to recovery out of this long pandemic, which has cast such a shadow over all our lives.

“There will be challenges ahead of us – the pandemic is a public health and economic emergency with long-lasting impacts on all our lives – but this is a talented and committed team, determined to make a positive difference to Wales and for Wales.

“We will use all our efforts and energies to create a stronger, fairer and greener Wales, where no one is held back or left behind.”

Response

Andrew RT Davies MS, Welsh Conservative leader in the Senedd, responded to the reshuffle by saying that“as we move out of the pandemic, Wales faces huge challenges”.

“Protecting jobs, tackling the waiting list backlog, and ensuring our children catch-up on their missed education will require the Welsh Government to strain every sinew.

“As the official opposition, Welsh Conservatives will scrutinise and hold ministers to account, but will also offer the hand of cooperation where possible to ensure Wales bounces back from the most difficult year we’ve experienced.

“And it’s in this spirit that I want to wish the First Minister and his new cabinet well as they start the significant task of ensuring our economy and public services get on the road to recovery.

“We’re proud Welsh men and women, and ultimately we need the government to succeed in the next couple of years if we are to see Wales turn the page on one of our most difficult chapters.”

The Cabinet in full

Mark Drakeford – First Minister

Mick Antoniw  – Counsel General designate and Minister for the Constitution

Rebecca Evans – Minister for Finance and Local Government

Vaughan Gething – Economy Minister

Dawn Bowden – Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, and Chief Whip

Lesley Griffiths – Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd

Jane Hutt – Minister for Social Justice

Hannah Blythyn  – Deputy Minister for Social Partnership

Julie James – Minister for Climate Change

Lee Waters  – Deputy Minister for Climate Change

Jeremy Miles  – Minister for Education and the Welsh Language

Eluned Morgan – Minister for Health and Social Services

Julie Morgan  – Deputy Minister for Social Services

Lynne Neagle – Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing

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