Mark Drakeford confirms he is standing down as First Minister of Wales

Video report by ITV Cymru Wales' National Correspondent Rob Osborne.

Mark Drakeford has announced his resignation as First Minister of Wales, triggering the contest to find his successor.

He confirmed that he will stand down as Welsh Labour leader in March 2024.

Mr Drakeford said: "Nominations for my successor as Welsh Labour Leader will open shortly.

"The process will be concluded by the end of the Spring term, to enable the name of the winner to be put to the Senedd before the Easter recess."

He will remain first minister in the meantime.

The Prime Minister and Labour Leader addressed Mr Drakeford's resignation in Wednesday's Prime Minister's Questions

It comes two days after Mr Drakeford told ITV Cymru Wales' Sharp End programme, he intended to go at some point in 2024.

He has been at the forefront of Welsh politics for decades, but recently led the Welsh Labour government through the covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Drakeford has been Wales' First Minister for five years.

He led the Welsh Labour government through the covid-19 pandemic. Credit: PA

"I wish him all the best"

Welsh Secretary David TC Davies told ITV News that he has "always got on well with Mark at a personal level", he wishes him "all the best and hopes he's able to spend a bit more time with his family".

The leader of the opposition in Wales also wished Mark Drakeford well. Credit: PA

Andrew RT Davies, the leader of the Welsh Conservatives, wished Mr Drakeford "well as he stands down from the helm".

He added: “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.”

Rhun ap Iorwerth said his party has built a "constructive relationship" with Mr Drakeford and his government.

Plaid Cymru's leader, Rhun ap Iorwerth, paid tribute to Mr Drakeford's "dedication to public life and in particular the tone of his leadership through the pandemic".

He added: “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."

Jane Dodds said Mr Drakeford has shown "nothing but kindness and support" to her throughout her time in the Senedd. Credit: PA

Meanwhile, Jane Dodds, the leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrats, thanked Mr Drakeford "for his leadership and dedication to Wales throughout his five years in the role".

Ms Dodds added: "Whether you disagree or not with the First Minister and his government’s decisions, it would be untrue to say that Mark has lacked any passion for his job.

"Throughout his time in office, he was provided consistent and clear leadership that has steered this country through some difficult times and for that we owe him a debt of gratitude.

"On a personal level, Mark has shown nothing but kindness and support to me throughout my time in the Senedd and for that I will forever be grateful."

Vikki Howells thanked Mark Drakeford for "everything he’s done and continues to do for the Wales". Credit: Senedd Cymru

Vikki Howells, Chair of the Welsh Labour Senedd Group, described Mr Drakeford as "principled, passionate and pragmatic".

Ms Howells added that he has "demonstrated time and time again that he is a grown-up politician willing to reach out across the Siambr when it is in the best interests of our nation to do so".

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