Vaughan Gething confirmed as Wales's new first minister

20 March 2024, 14:41

Vaughan Gething confirmed as Wales's new First Minister
Vaughan Gething confirmed as Wales's new First Minister. Picture: Welsh Parliament

By StephenRigley

Vaughan Gething has been confirmed as Wales's new first minister after a vote of Senedd members.

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The Welsh Labour leader succeeds Mark Drakeford, who resigned in an emotional speech on Tuesday after holding the position since 2018.

He said becoming the first black leader of any European nation was "a matter of pride", but also a "daunting responsibility".

Vaughan Gething who has become the first black leader of any European country
Vaughan Gething who has become the first black leader of any European country. Picture: Alamy

Read More: Mark Drakeford emotionally steps down as Welsh first minister after 'hardest and saddest' year following wife's death

Read More: Vaughan Gething to become Wales' next first minister after winning Labour leadership contest

Mr Gething won the support of all the Labour members as well as Jane Dodds, the Senedd’s only Liberal Democrat member.

The Conservative and Plaid Cymru members voted for their respective party leaders but this was largely symbolic as neither
had enough votes to secure the Welsh government leadership role.

The Senedd is made up of 60 members, but one member of Plaid – Rhys ab Owen – is currently suspended for acting inappropriately towards two women on a work night out.

Mr Gething began his statement to the Senedd by paying tribute to his predecessor Mr Drakeford.

"Diolch yn fawr [Thank you very much] Mark for everything you have done for Wales" he said.

Mr Gething said he looked forward "to standing up for Wales and for devolution in the weeks and months to come".

"But I relish the opportunity to cooperate for Wales with a new UK government that invests in partnership and in Wales's future."

He said he would offer Wales policies that were "rooted in Welsh values" and "a leadership based on hope" adding "It is very easy not to care about identity, when your own has never once been questioned or held you back.

"I believe the Wales of today and the future will be owned by all those decent people who recognise that our parliament and our government should look like our country."

He ended his statement by saying he wants to lead "a Wales full of hope, ambition and opportunity".

Mr Gething will not be the official First Minister until he has written to the King.

Once the King has approved the position, he will be sworn in and a cabinet can be formed.

Vaughan Gething confirmed by the Senedd
Vaughan Gething confirmed by the Senedd. Picture: Welsh parliament

Read More: Vaughan Gething: 'I have been racially abused while campaigning'

He will be the country’s fifth leader since the National Assembly for Wales, now called the Senedd, was established in 1999, and the first black leader of any European country.

However, the BBC has reported that 14 Welsh Labour politicians met earlier this week to discuss concerns about a £200,000 donation Mr Gething received from a company that was found guilty of environmental offences in January.

Mr Gething and his team have rejected calls to pay back the money, insisting the donation was declared in line with Senedd and Electoral Commission rules and that the minister is committed to transparency.

In an emotional resignation speech on Tuesday, Mr Drakeford spoke about the personal tragedy he had suffered in early 2023, when his wife of 46 years, Clare, died suddenly aged 71.

Mr Drakeford, who will return to the backbenches, described the last 12 months as the “hardest and the saddest of my life”.

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