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Tributes pour in following news of Mark Drakeford’s resignation as First Minister

13 Dec 2023 4 minute read
First Minister Mark Drakeford.

Emily Price

Tributes have poured in following the announcement that Mark Drakeford will resign as First Minister this coming spring.

Mr Drakeford made the announcement on Wednesday morning on the Members’ balcony of the Senedd oriel saying: “When I stood for election as leader of Welsh Labour, I said I would stand down during the current Senedd term. That time has now come.”

The 69-year-old Labour politician, who has been Wales’ leader since December 2018, said he hoped his replacement could be in place before Easter 2024.

Responding to Mark Drakeford’s announcement, 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.”

Distraction

Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies said the announcement shouldn’t be a “distraction” from delivering for Wales.

He said: “I wish Mark well as he stands down from the helm. While we may have different visions for Wales, I know I’m joined by colleagues in holding a huge amount of respect for his dedication to the job of First Minister.

“It’s important, however, with this announcement that there is no distraction from the really important job of delivering for the people of Wales. Labour politicians jockeying for the role of First Minister must not detract from this.”

Dedication

Welsh Liberal Democrat leader, Jane Dodds said the First Minister had shown nothing but “kindness” to her during her time at the Senedd.

She 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.”

Mr Drakeford will continue to work as First Minister until March next year, but today’s announcement has triggered a contest to find his successor.

Titan

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said Mr Drakeford was a “titan” of Welsh politics.

“Mark has set a clear standard for public service in UK politics, always putting others before himself,” Sir Keir said.

“During his five years as First Minister, against a backdrop of austerity, instability in Westminster and navigating the pandemic, he has delivered for Wales with steely determination and quiet authority.

“Above all, Mark is a kind and decent man, who lives his Labour values.

“A proud Welshman, Wales too can be proud of Mark, for his fight for working people. He’s a true titan of Welsh and Labour politics. It has been a pleasure to work alongside him and we all wish him the very best for his retirement.”


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Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
2 months ago

Rhun ap Iorwerth is spot on when he says “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”.

Why vote
Why vote
2 months ago

One down. Can’t wait gor the next sennedd election.

Glen
Glen
2 months ago

By far the worst FM ever, and there’s been some stiff competition

Richard
Richard
2 months ago

A real loss. I first knew Mark when we were young – indeed very young councillors .: i must say he has always kept to his view on life and been an exemplar for honesty and decent standards. Although a touch scoulding at times – the public good has always been well ahead of the Party good. His focus on fact, research and evidenced based outcomes has won him many admirers – though pethaps not friends in his own party. Wales needs a calm, focused and collegate successor – not a combstative, cross Cardiff & Vale one who gets a… Read more »

Wynford Jones
Wynford Jones
2 months ago

Resignation cynically timed to coincide with St David’s Day celebrations. Wants to please his masters at Labour England HQ. The prize, [already hinted at when he said that he would still be involved in politics] – Baron Drakeford of Ely.

Arthur Owen
Arthur Owen
2 months ago
Reply to  Wynford Jones

What are you on about?

Richard E
Richard E
2 months ago
Reply to  Wynford Jones

So what ! Not a HOL fan but with the likes of Dafydd W going plus less MPs we still
need a voice or two in the imperial
Legeslature ✔️

Wynford Jones
Wynford Jones
2 months ago
Reply to  Richard E

“So what!” – you can’t be serious! With one and a half PC lords and a train-load of Welsh Labour peers, what significant improvement have they made to the lives of our people? On the other hand, the SNP isn’t tainted by involvement in the HoL.

hdavies15
hdavies15
2 months ago
Reply to  Wynford Jones

learn how to spell correctly – try Barren Drakeford !

Wynford Jones
Wynford Jones
2 months ago
Reply to  hdavies15

Diolch am y cywiriad 👏

oatmaster
oatmaster
2 months ago

The last serious person left in UK politics.

Steve
Steve
2 months ago

Mark Drakeford a man with many good qualities – decent and honest. However, on several occasions he has referred to our membership of the UK as an ‘insurance policy.’ He is basically saying that we in Cymru are not good enough to manage our own affairs. He could have strived to have led an independent Cymru, instead he chose to expose us to the Tory policies of endless austerity.

hdavies15
hdavies15
2 months ago
Reply to  Steve

Too true. London regime of any colour could count on him not stressing the ties.

Jeff
Jeff
2 months ago

ARTD thinks he is in with a chance now (press interview).

Make no mistake, if he gets in in 2026, Wales will be immeasurable worse off.

Wynford Jones
Wynford Jones
2 months ago
Reply to  Jeff

Wishful thinking on his part. Don’t stress over it.

Glen
Glen
2 months ago
Reply to  Jeff

So you are happy to live in a ‘one party state’?

Jeff
Jeff
2 months ago
Reply to  Glen

Nope. never said that. Every government needs a decent opposition, we have Plaid at the moment, nothing else. We have No10 Downing Street in the guise of the Cons trying to wreck anything they don’t control.

Mr Williams
Mr Williams
2 months ago

Tribute where tribute is due. I have fallen out of love with Labour, but I still have the greatest of respect for Mark Drakeford. He led us courageously through the pandemic, and he has not been afraid to take charge of the agenda in Wales, making difficult decisions where necessary.

I also met him when, as finance minister, he came to the school I work at to meet some pupils. He was lovely with them, full of patience and genuinely interested in what they had to say.

I wish him all the best for his retirement. Cofion gorau Professor Drakeford.

oatmaster
oatmaster
2 months ago
Reply to  Mr Williams

It was obvious through the pandemic that he was thinking things through and not just making decisions based on what was best for him. Even if you disagreed you could tell he’d put the hours into reading the briefings and going over the data.

Rhufawn Jones
Rhufawn Jones
2 months ago

Er na rown i fyth groes dros y blaid Lafur, nid dros fy nghrogi a’m dadberfeddu, mi roedd Mark Drakeford yn Brif Weinidog da.

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