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Mark Drakeford to continue as First Minister of Wales

·3-min read

Mark Drakeford has been confirmed as the Welsh Parliament’s nominee for First Minister of Wales.

The Welsh Labour leader is set to continue as head of the Welsh Government until he hands over to a successor towards the end of the new parliament’s five-year term.

On Wednesday, the first plenary session since the Senedd election saw Mr Drakeford stand unopposed to continue in the role after his name was put forward by Labour MS Rebecca Evans.

Following his successful nomination for appointment, Mr Drakeford told members his Government would lead “in a way that seeks consensus” from other parties, and promised to tackle issues such as the environment, basic income, and affordable housing in Welsh-speaking areas.

“I will lead a Welsh Labour government, but we will govern in a way that seeks consensus and will take account of new and bold ideas from wherever those ideas come from,” he said.

“Ideas that can lead to a better future for the people of Wales, from coronavirus to clean air, from universal basic income to ensuring that young people are not priced out of Welsh-speaking communities.

“This will be a government that listens and will work collaboratively with others where there is common ground to be found between us.”

He said Covid-19 would be tackled in a “cautious way”, warning that the county was “still in the midst of a pandemic which has cast such a dark shadow over our lives.”

“It has extended our health service and the people within it. It has harmed lives and impacted on people’s livelihoods,” he said.

“This Welsh Labour Government will continue to tackle coronavirus in the cautious way in which we have done so to date by following the science and safeguarding the most vulnerable in our communities.

“We will lead Wales to a recovery that will bring Wales to a fairer, greener recovery for all. Nobody will be left behind, and nobody will be held back.”

Mr Drakeford also said Wales would “work in partnership” with governments from other parts of the UK “wherever that is conducted with parity of esteem and respect”.

“It is my job to stand up for Wales and I will never stand back from doing so when the need arises,” he said.

“But my starting point will be to lead a government which is a constructive, engaged and positive partner in meeting those challenges which don’t, and never have, ended at our borders.”

Andrew RT Davies, leader of the Welsh Conservatives in the Senedd, congratulated Mr Drakeford and promised his party would be a “constructive opposition”.

He said: “There will be differences between us. But there are areas where we will be able to work.”

He added: “We give our commitment as an opposition to work constructively where we can, but we will fulfil our duty as an opposition to hold the Government to account on its actions and seek to improve legislation where we can.”

Mr Davies also called for clarification about the development of Wales’ own Covid-19 inquiry.

The Senedd’s presiding officer, Plaid Cymru’s Elin Jones, was also re-elected to her role and will now recommend to the Queen that Mr Drakeford be formally appointed as First Minister.

He will be officially sworn in by judge Mr Justice Simon Picken, the Presiding Judge of Wales, on Thursday morning at the Government’s Cathays Park building.

Due to coronavirus restrictions, 20 MSs attended the Senedd in person, while 40 others appeared remotely from nearby parliament offices.

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