Mark Drakeford: Wales would remain at the 'radical end of thinking' under a UK Labour government

First Minister of Wales, Mark Drakeford would stand firm on issues like gender recognition and proportional representation under a UK Labour government. Credit: Sharp End

Wales would remain at the "radical end of thinking" on issues like gender recognition and proportional representation under a UK Labour government, First Minister Mark Drakeford has said.

The Welsh Labour leader said he would not expect his relationship with his UK counterpart Keir Starmer to always be "plain sailing" but that the pair have a strong mutual respect from previously working together.

Mr Drakeford told ITV1's Sharp End: "My job in Labour is to be at the cutting edge of where we think things should be.

"At the conference today I've emphasised our obligation to be at the radical end of thinking.

"Sometimes that does mean we'll be testing some of those things with our UK colleagues, so long as it is a conversation within the bounds of our mutual respect. It's my job sometimes to speak up for the things that we would want to see here in Wales and have those negotiations with our UK colleagues."

Both Labour leaders delivered speeches to the conference in Llandudno on Saturday. Credit: Pool

Mr Drakeford previously backed the Scottish Government’s plan to reform gender recognition laws and said that his government would seek the same powers to introduce similar legislation.  

Political Editor Adrian Masters asked the First Minister if conversations on gender recognition had been had with Keir Starmer - and had it been a "no"?

"I don't think they've ever said no, Mr Drakeford said.

"It's always a continuing conversation. As far as the electoral system is concerned, Keir Starmer has to win power under the current system.

"He is focused entirely on making sure we can get a Labour government with the system we have now. Then we'll think after that about how we use that power to get further Labour governments into the future."

On Saturday (March 11) Labour’s UK leader addressed delegates at the Welsh conference in Llandudno with a promise to give future Welsh governments more control over economic levers if he becomes Prime Minister. 

Mark Drakeford agreed that in the past, there has been times when what goes on in Wales has not been of "enormous central interest" - but with Keir Starmer at the helm things are "different now".

"I think it is different now because we've been in power here since devolution began. The next Labour government, as I hope it will be, will have a very talented pool of people but many of them have never actually been in a position of being inside a government.

"There are simple practical things that we are able to share with our Labour colleagues to make their lives more effective in future."

'Clear red water'

Before Mark Drakeford was a politician, he advised the late First Minister Rhodri Morgan and is credited with coining "Clear Red Water" as a phrase to emphasise policy differences between Morgan and Tony Blair. 

Despite coming from different strands of Labour, the two leaders "work productively" together, the First Minister said.

He said: "When I was the Brexit minister here in Wales, Keir Starmer was the shadow Brexit minister for Labour so I have had the chance to work closely along side him far before he became leader of the Labour Party and that's always been a strong foundation for our ability to go on working productively together.

"I don't expect it to always be plain sailing as it is our job as Welsh Labour to set an agenda that we know would work for Wales."

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