Mark Drakeford

Mark Drakeford announces resignation as first minister of Wales

Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford has announced his intention to resign.

He announced he will stand down as Welsh Labour leader immediately and a leadership contest for a new first minister will be held.

In a statement five years to the day since he was confirmed as first minister in 2018, he said: “When I stood for election as leader of Welsh Labour, I said I would stand down during the current Senedd term. That time has now come.”

He said nominations for his replacement as Welsh Labour leader will open shortly, adding that the process should be concluded “by the end of the spring term”. 

He will then pave the way for the new leader to be formally confirmed by the Senedd as the new first minister shortly after. He said he will remain as first minister until his successor is picked by his party.

Drakeford, 69, the Cardiff West Member of the Senedd (MS) ,has been first minister for five years. He had planned to stand down in 2024 but the timing of his announcement is a surprise.

In a resignation statement posted to X (formerly Twitter), Drakeford said: “It has been a great privilege to serve as leader of this party. Together, we have achieved a huge amount over the last five years in some of the toughest times we have known.

“Despite all the chaos in Westminster, the ongoing impact of Brexit, climate change and the pandemic, by working together, we have delivered record results for Welsh Labour in the local government and Senedd elections.

“Our greatest task is still ahead of us – to return a Labour UK government and start repairing the huge damage which has been inflicted by the Tories over the last 13 years.

“I will work tirelessly to secure that Labour victory and to continue delivering on the promises we made to people all across Wales in 2021 to deliver a stronger, fairer and greener Wales.”

Drakeford had long said he would leave the post before the end of the current Senedd term in 2026. In the summer, he made it clear he would completely leave the Welsh parliament at the next election.

During his time as first minister, Drakeford led the fight against the coronavirus pandemic in Wales. 

In doing so, Drakeford at times, charted a different course to prime minister Boris Johnson and the UK government in London. Both Drakeford’s late wife, and his mother caught the virus.

Following a career as a probation officer and youth justice worker, Mark Drakeford’s first elected role was a Labour Councillor on South Glamorgan County Council. He served on the local authority for 8 years (1985-1993), before then opting for a job in academia

Drakeford later became a Special Adviser on health and social care to Rhodri Morgan, when Morgan was first minister. 

He held this role until Morgan’s resignation in 2011. 

Drakeford went on to succeed his former boss as the Welsh Assembly Member for Cardiff West.

Drakeford became Chair of the Welsh Assembly’s Health and Social Care Committee (2011-2013) before becoming Minister for Health and Social Services (2013-2016).

Drakeford moved to became Wales‘ Cabinet Secretary for Finance (2016-2018) and Brexit Minister (2017-2018).

Following Carwyn Jones’ resignation in 2018, Drakeford succeeded him as First Minister in the Senedd.

Although sometimes described as “more post office than box office”, Drakeford has proved popular with voters, and was re-elected in 2021, with Labour matching its best ever performance in the Welsh Assembly elections.

Drakeford, Mark