First Minister Mark Drakeford promises not to be back seat driver but doesn’t rule out being a rebel

Mark Drakeford said he will "absolutely not" be a backseat driver to his successor when he steps down as Wales' First Minister.

Ahead of Mr Drakeford relinquishing Welsh politics' top job, he sat down with ITV Wales' Political Editor Adrian Masters.

When asked if he will be a backseat driver to his successor, Mr Drakeford responded: "Absolutely not. I'm very determined that the new First Minister will be able to get on with the job, do it in there way.

"I'm looking forward to being on the back benches and to have a bit of freedom to think about and talk about some of the things that you can't always rehearse when you're within the confines of being First Minister and to support them in the difficult job they will do."

He was then asked if he was planning on being a rebel, to which Mr Drakeford said: "I'm not planning to be a rebel particularly but I'm looking forward to a chance to say some things that are not as easy to say when you're confined by the responsibilities that you have as First Minister."

A recent ITV Wales/YouGov BarnCymru poll showed Mark Drakeford's popularity with the Welsh public is at an 18-month low as more than half of respondents (56%) believe he is doing a bad job of being First Minister.

When asked if he is disappointed by that, Mr Drakeford said: "I've never made a single decision that I've made when I've been First Minister on the basis that it would make me more or less popular.

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"It's nice when it does, but it's not the reason I do things. The decision's I've tried to make during the five years I've been here are the difficult decisions, the long term decisions that may not be popular in the here and now, but lay down the foundations for a more successful country in the future."

He also said he "doesn't read" hate comments, adding "we live in a world where social media encourages people only ever to speak to people who believes the same things as they do. [It] never allows people to have a dialogue with someone who may take a different point of view.

"I think Wales is a lot nicer and a kinder place than you might imagine if you took your picture of it simply from the keyboard warriors who play out their particular and often very extreme views in that narrow world of social media."

Mr Drakeford had previously ruled out a peerage and said: "I myself don't have an interest in going to an unelected House of Lords. It stands for everything that I don't believe in."

However, he said he would consider it in a reformed House of Lords.

"If a Labour Government is serious about reforming the House of Lords, to use the prescriptions in the Gordon Brown report, to turn it into a forum for the nations and the regions, elected by people who live in the nations and the regions, then that is a prospect I would be interested to think about."

On Tuesday 19 March, Mr Drakeford will take his last First Minister’s Questions.Soon after finishing that session, he will tender his resignation to the King and once that happens, the Senedd has 28 days to nominate another member of the Welsh Parliament to become First Minister.

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