TWO politicians have shared their thoughts following Mark Drakeford's resignation as Welsh Labour leader.

Wales' first minister has announced he is standing down as Labour leader, triggering the contest to find his successor.

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.

Gareth Davies, Vale of Clwyd MS, said: “I wish the first minister well as he prepares to stand down.

“I welcome the change of course for Wales, and I hope that we can work constructively with whomever emerges as the First Minister’s successor.

“Drakeford’s legacy of strict Covid-19 measures, blanket 20mph, record NHS waiting times at Glan Clwyd Hospital, and a tourist economy in freefall may have lasting scars for people in North Wales.

“Nonetheless, I have respect for his dedication to the position of First Minister of Wales, and his adherence to his principles.”

Rhun ap Iorwerth, MS and Plaid Cymru Leader, 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."

Mr Drakeford was first elected to the Senedd in 2011 as the Member for Cardiff West.


He served in various ministerial roles from 2013 under the leadership of Carwyn Jones, before succeeding him as First Minister and Welsh Labour leader in 2018.

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.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak wished Mr Drakeford “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.

UK 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.”

Welsh Conservative leader Andrew RT Davies 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.”