Mark Drakeford overhauls cabinet as Vaughan Gething replaced as health minister

Vaughan Gething will lead Wales' economic recovery after the coronavirus pandemic. Credit: PA Images

Vaughan Gething has left his role as health minister after five years, as Wales' First Minister reveals his new cabinet team.

Mark Drakeford said climate change, new green jobs and recovery from the pandemic will be at the heart of the new Welsh Labour government.

Mr Gething has instead been appointed ecomomy minister and will lead Wales' economic recovery, after heading up the response to the pandemic over the last 15 months.

Eluned Morgan takes his place as minister for health and social services, with a specific focus on NHS recovery and the pandemic response.

With health making up half of the entire budget, it's a big promotion for Ms Morgan, who was previously minister for Welsh language and mental health.

Jeremy Miles becomes minister for education and the Welsh language, overseeing the introduction of Wales’ new curriculum and the biggest ever catch-up programme in schools.

The previous education minister was Kirsty Williams, who announced in October that she would not be standing as a candidate in the 2021 Senedd elections.

A number of other changes to the ministerial line-up were announced this afternoon.

The new cabinet is made up of five women and four men, which is the same ratio as before. Of the deputy ministers, there are now four women and one man - previously, it was three women and two men.

Today's photocall for the new cabinet members.

With the global climate crisis firmly under the spotlight, Julie James has been appointed minister for climate change.

The Welsh Government says her brief will bring together the environment, energy, housing, planning and transport portfolios. Lee Waters will be her deputy.

The First Minister said: “The environment will be at the heart of our decision-making. The climate change emergency has not gone away while we have been dealing with the pandemic.

“Wales is a beautiful country with immense natural assets, which will help power our recovery and create the jobs of the future.

“In my new government, the environment doesn’t just have a seat at the cabinet table, it will be a consideration in all we do.”

Ken Skates is stepping away after eight years in government, saying 'now is the right time'. Credit: Welsh Government

Meanwhile, Ken Skates - formerly the minister for economy, transport and North Wales - has returned to the backbenches after eight years in government.

The Welsh Government said Mr Skates wishes to focus on strengthening Welsh Labour in North Wales in preparation for next year’s local government elections and the next UK Parliamentary election. He will also strengthen Labour links between North Wales and North-West England.

The First Minister paid tribute to his former minister, saying: “Ken has been a real strength in cabinet and a voice for North Wales. He will continue speaking up for North Wales and for Welsh Labour, but in a different role. We will miss his energy and passion."

Elsewhere, Dawn Bowden joins the government as deputy minister for the arts and sport in the economy portfolio. She also becomes the Chief Whip.

Lesley Griffiths becomes minister for rural affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd.

Lynne Neagle becomes deputy minister for mental health and wellbeing - her first ministerial role, having represented Torfaen since 1999. She was previously chair of the Senedd's children, young people and education committee.

Mick Antoniw returns to the cabinet as Counsel General designate and minister for the constitution. It's a return to his former job - he previously held the position of Counsel General from 2016-2017, before Jeremy Miles was given the role.

Jane Hutt takes on the social justice brief in a return to a ministerial role. Ms Hutt was a cabinet minister from 1999 to 2017, and has been Chief Whip outside cabinet since 2018 after a year on the backbenches.

Hannah Blythyn becomes deputy minister for social partnership, having previously been deputy minister for housing and local government.

Rebecca Evans retains the post of finance minister but also adds local government to her portfolio, with local elections just a year away.

Julie Morgan remains in her role as deputy minister for social services.

Mark Drakeford said his government wants to create a 'stronger, fairer and greener Wales'. Credit: PA Images

Mr Drakeford added: “The new cabinet is ready to get to work to set Wales on the path to recovery out of this long pandemic, which has cast such a shadow over all our lives.

“There will be challenges ahead of us – the pandemic is a public health and economic emergency with long-lasting impacts on all our lives – but this is a talented and committed team, determined to make a positive difference to Wales and for Wales.

“We will use all our efforts and energies to create a stronger, fairer and greener Wales, where no one is held back or left behind.”

The new Welsh Labour Government:

Mark Drakeford - First Minister

Mick Antoniw  - Counsel General designate and Minister for the Constitution

Rebecca Evans - Minister for Finance and Local Government

Vaughan Gething - Economy Minister

Dawn Bowden - Deputy Minister for Arts and Sport, and Chief Whip

Lesley Griffiths - Minister for Rural Affairs and North Wales, and Trefnydd

Jane Hutt - Minister for Social Justice

Hannah Blythyn  - Deputy Minister for Social Partnership

Julie James - Minister for Climate Change

Lee Waters  - Deputy Minister for Climate Change

Jeremy Miles  - Minister for Education and the Welsh Language

Eluned Morgan - Minister for Health and Social Services

Julie Morgan  - Deputy Minister for Social Services

Lynne Neagle - Deputy Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing

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