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Carwyn Jones to stand down as First Minister in the autumn

Carwyn Jones has been First Minister for 9 years. Credit: PA

First Minister Carwyn Jones has announced that he will step down in the autumn.

The 51-year-old former barrister, from Swansea, made the announcement at the Welsh Labour conference in Llandudno on Saturday.

He said that his successor would be in place by December.

ITV Wales Political Editor Adrian Masters says the news comes as a shock to many attendees, including Labour Assembly Members.

Carwyn Jones says he intends to stay on as a backbench AM and won’t force a by-election.

His decision to stand down will bring to an end his nine-year stint as First Minister, succeeding Rhodri Morgan in December 2009.

The decision comes months after Mr Jones referred himself to an independent inquiry over allegations of bullying at a senior level of the Welsh Government three years ago, following the death of assembly member Carl Sargeant in November.

Mr Jones acknowledged his battle with "the darkest of times" in recent months:

In any normal political career, you expect to be put through the ringer, and even have your integrity challenged. I don't think anyone can know what these last few months have been like. No-one that is, apart from Lisa and the kids. They have carried me through the darkest of times. I have asked too much of them, and it is time for me to think about what's fair for them.

And so, this will be the last Welsh Labour conference I address as party leader. I intend - as I've always maintained - to be here to give every answer to every question. But I intend to stand down in the autumn, allowing for a new First Minister to take their place by the end of this year.

At that point it will make sense to have a fresh start. For my family, for my party and for my country. I am incredibly proud of what we have achieved together so far. The election victories. The landmark legislation. A better deal for nurses, for students and our businesses. Putting Wales on the map.

– Carwyn Jones AM, First Minister
Carwyn Jones succeeded Rhodri Morgan in December 2009. Credit: PA images

He also thanked his family and Labour members for their support over the last nine years:

''To my children. Sorry for all the times I wasn't there and all the things I missed. It'll change in the future. And to you, my Labour family. Thanks for all your support. Without the doors you knock, without the leaflets you deliver, without the work you do in your communities I know I wouldn't have been given this opportunity.''

Party leaders have given their support following the shock announcement.

Welsh Conservatives leader, Andrew RT Davies, said despite being on 'opposites sides' of politics, he wished Carwyn Jones well:

Whilst we have spent many years on opposite sides of the political divide, you have to recognise Carwyn's significant contribution to public life in Wales, and the huge achievement of serving his country at the highest level for so long.

Clearly taking on such responsibility has a big impact on family life and simple things like being able to spend time with your children as they're growing up, and I fully understand his reasons.

Recent events have cast a shadow over Welsh politics and the tragedy of losing a colleague and friend would undoubtedly have had a big impact on the First Minister - as it has everyone.

Over the years we've exchanged many metaphorical blows, and there will be plenty of time to debate and reflect on Carwyn's legacy as First Minister. But for now, I simply wish him and his family all the best for what lies ahead.

– Andrew RT Davies, Welsh Conservatives leader

Plaid Cymru's Leanne Wood AM congratulated him on his tenure but said ''rearranging the deckchairs will not deliver change':

I congratulate Carwyn Jones on his nine years as First Minister of Wales and wish him and his family the best for the future.

Wales's government has been led by the Labour Party for nineteen years. Over that time our economy, our NHS, our schools and our local services have been allowed to weaken and diminish. People and our community infrastructure have fallen further and further behind. Wales needs more than a change of leader. We need a new government with the ideas, the values and the drive to build our nation into the successful country we know it could be. Wales can and must be better than this - rearranging the deckchairs will not deliver the change we need.

– Leanne Wood AM, Plaid Cymru leader

Meanwhile Labour Leader, Jeremy Corbyn, thanked Mr Jones for his service to the party. He said: ''Carwyn has led Welsh Labour to achieve unprecedented electoral success, forming two Labour Welsh Assembly governments. Over the last nine years he has stood up to Tory austerity and stood up for the people of Wales as a strong voice for devolution and democracy."

You can watch the First Minister's speech at the Welsh Labour confrence below:

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