Politics Mark Drakeford resigns as First Minister of Wales

Mark Drakeford resigns as First Minister of Wales

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Mr Drakeford insisted he still had a lot to achieve over the coming months and there would be “plenty of time for political obituaries and retrospection once I’ve ceased to be First Minister, but not before”.

But he added: “In a five-year period, which has seen Wales deal with austerity, Brexit, the Covid pandemic, the climate crisis, wars in Ukraine and the Middle East, and four different prime ministers – so far – there will be lots to reflect upon.”

Until he leaves office, he said he would “continue to be fully focused on delivering the promises we made to people across Wales in the last Senedd election”.

“The next Welsh leader and First Minister will, I hope, have an opportunity which has not come my way and that is to work with a newly-elected Labour government in London. And I will work as hard as I can to see that Labour government elected.”

A YouGov poll of 1,004 Welsh voters for ITV Cymru Wales and Cardiff University earlier this month found Mr Drakeford’s popularity was at an 18-month low, with 56 per cent believing he was doing a bad job.

Rishi Sunak, the Prime Minister, wished the outgoing First Minister “all the best as he moves on from his many years of public service”.

“We will continue to work closely with the Welsh Government to build on our joint work to spread opportunity for people across Wales,” Mr Sunak said.

Sir Keir Starmer, the UK Labour leader, 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.”

Andrew RT Davies, the Welsh Conservative leader, 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.

“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.”

Rhun ap Iorwerth, the Plaid Cymru leader, paid tribute to Mr Drakeford’s “dedication to public life” and the “tone of his leadership” during the pandemic.

But he added: “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.”

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