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Mark Drakeford resigns after five years in office

19 Mar 2024 4 minute read
Mark Drakeford on his final day as First Minister – Image: Senedd Cymru

Emily Price

Mark Drakeford has formally resigned as Wales’ First Minister after five years in office.

In his emotional resignation statement, he told the Senedd the last 12 months had been the “hardest and saddest” of his life.

His final speech was greeted with a standing ovation from Senedd Members from across the political spectrum.

Speaking in the Chamber before formally tendering his resignation to the King, he said: “My aim throughout, as First Minister, has been to use the mandate my party and my Government secured to keep the promises we made to people across Wales and to do so with the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 always as our guiding principle.

“That has meant being prepared to do the things that are difficult today, because we know that the benefits will lie in the lives of the generations to come.

“If you set out to be that radical, reforming Government, then you have to be prepared for opposition, as we’ve heard this afternoon.

“No ground was ever gained without a struggle for a progressive cause, even when the case for change is so clear or the object of that change so apparently innocuous, because in politics you will always face vested interests, some of them benign, others determined not to surrender their own positions of power and of privilege.

“That has been a feature of the whole of my time as First Minister.”

The outgoing First Minister says he is looking forward to spending time on the Labour backbenches supporting the new Welsh Government.

The leader of the Welsh Conservative’s Andrew RT Davies said he had shown “dedication and professionalism” in the role.

In emotional scenes, Mr Davies thanked Mark Drakeford for showing kindness and support when he took a break from Welsh politics in 2021 to recover from mental health issues.

Andrew RT Davies and Mark Drakeford on the First Minister’s last day in office. © Welsh Government (Crown Copyright), all rights reserved


He said: “People recall that point where you and I had that heated exchange, and they say, ‘you must really hate each other’.

“Hate is a terrible word. It is a really poisonous infectious word in a negative way. That’s not hate. That is passion. That is conviction.

“And that is what politics is all about. And that is what you have brought to the role of First Minister.

“I also thank you for the kindness you showed me when you personally wrote to me during my illness. That kindness was greatly appreciated and meant a lot to me at the time.

“I thank you sincerely for what you’ve done as First Minister. I wish you well in your retirement.”

Leader of Plaid Cymru, Rhun ap Iorwerth said the former Welsh Labour leader was “without doubt, a dedicated public servant, a serious First Minister for serious times.”

Rhun ap Iorwerth on the First Minister’s final day in office © Welsh Government (Crown Copyright), all rights reserved

He said: “Now, as he looks back, and knowing first-hand, I hope it was all he wanted it to be. There’s no question that moving from adviser to chief decision maker will have brought many unexpected challenges and a far greater burden of responsibility, and, of course, exposure and public scrutiny.

“We know the metaphors; we have exchanged blows, we have crossed swords. But I’ve been fortunate also to get to know the First Minister through—at times, difficult, but always constructive—co-operation too.

“In that time I’ve seen for myself what I am absolutely sure we all have come to appreciate, that he has been, without doubt, a dedicated public servant, a serious First Minister for serious times.”

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader, Jane Dodds said Mark Drakeford had raised the bar in terms of arguments, intellect, and challenge and wished him all the best for the future.

Tomorrow the Senedd will vote on Wales’ next First Minister.

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Mr Williams
Mr Williams
4 months ago

Best wishes for the future Professor Drakeford.

R Jones
R Jones
4 months ago

Best wishes for your retirement Mr Drakeford. I have just come back from New Zealand where they have also reduced speed limits, it will be worldwide. Thanks for sticking to that policy.

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