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

'Mark has set a clear standard for public service in UK politics, always putting others before himself'

Tributes have been pouring in following the news of Mark Drakeford’s resignation as First Minister of Wales, with many praising him for his ‘compassion’ and for being a champion of progressive values.

Drakeford announced today that he will stand down as Welsh Labour leader in March, to be followed by a leadership contest for a new first minister. A new party leader in Wales will be elected before Easter.

The Cardiff West Member of the Senedd (MS), who was confirmed as first minister exactly five years and one day ago, had made clear his intention to stand down in 2024 but the timing of his announcement is a surprise, given that it comes six days before the Welsh government’s draft budget.

Reacting to the news of his decision to step down, Labour leader Keir Starmer praised Drakeford for an ‘outstanding career’.

“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.”

LBC presenter James O’Brien praised Drakeford as ‘probably the most human politician I’ve ever met’, while Ed Miliband posted on X: “Mark Drakeford has been a great public servant for Wales, leading with integrity and progressive values and showing what Labour can achieve in government. I wish him all the best for the future.”

Gordon Brown also praised Drakeford for his compassion. He said: “Mark Drakeford has been a brilliant, compassionate and principled leader of Welsh Labour putting social justice right at the top of his mission. He deserves all our gratitude for his years of public service.”

The TUC praised the Welsh Labour leader for standing up for workers. It posted on X: “Mark has led Wales with integrity during what was an incredibly challenging period.

“He’s worked, alongside unions, against the UK Government’s attacks on workers rights.

“And he’s made sure workers in Wales have a strong voice through the Social Partnership Act. Diolch, Mark!”

Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth 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.”

Basit Mahmood is editor of Left Foot Forward

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