Wales' first minister Mark Drakeford to officially quit

Mark Drakeford
Mark Drakeford will officially resign on Wednesday afternoon
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Mark Drakeford will officially step down as first minister of Wales on Tuesday afternoon after five years in the job.

He will tender his resignation to the King after taking a final round of questions from opposition leaders.

Mr Drakeford led the Welsh government through Covid and was responsible for the country's lockdown rules during the pandemic.

His successor, Vaughan Gething, will take over on Wednesday.

Mr Gething, who has made history as the first black leader of a nation in Europe, beat Jeremy Miles to the job in the Welsh Labour leadership contest, which ended on Saturday.

Welsh Conservative Senedd leader Andrew RT Davies said Mr Drakeford is a "very serious, thoughtful politician" which was "right" for the Covid pandemic.

He said he had been a "senior partner in the devolution journey since 1999", having been a senior adviser to Rhodri Morgan.

Born in Carmarthen in 1954, Mr Drakeford has worked as a probation officer and a university lecturer and is a professor of social policy.

He advised the late Rhodri Morgan while he was first minister in the 2000s and won his Cardiff West seat after Mr Morgan quit the constituency.

He succeeded Carwyn Jones as first minister in 2018, before Covid raised his profile significantly when the UK government decided to hand lockdown powers to the Welsh government.

The Welsh government's approach to the pandemic became increasingly independent as time went on.

It was the backdrop to Welsh Labour's successful Senedd election campaign of 2021 when Mr Drakeford's party held on to power.

Mark Drakeford
Mark Drakeford held his final cabinet meeting on Monday

Facing rising costs, in the past year the Welsh government has had to make cuts to public services to prop up the NHS and its railway services.

Mr Drakeford has faced criticism over his government's decision to roll out a default 20mph speed limit.

His ministers have also begun the process of expanding the number of politicians in the Senedd from 60 to 96.

Mr Drakeford will take part in his final first minister's questions in the Welsh Parliament at 13:30 GMT, before a resignation statement at about 15:45.

He is expected to formally tender his resignation to the King afterwards before the Senedd sits on Wednesday to confirm his replacement.

Mr Drakeford will continue as Cardiff West MS until at least the next election, when he has said he will stand down.

Andrew RT Davies confirmed that the Tory group will nominate Mr Davies to be first minister on Wednesday.

The move means the Welsh Parliament will hold a roll call vote with each Member of the Senedd (MS) declaring who they support.

"It's more of a symbolic gesture because Labour have the votes," Mr Davies said.

Normally such a vote should not prevent Mr Gething from being confirmed, as the government currently has a slight majority after Plaid Cymru MS Rhys ab Owen was suspended.

But it comes with the backdrop of concern among some MSs about £200,000 of donations to the newly elected Welsh Labour leader.

There is no suggestion at present that any MS has decided not to support him, but the BBC was told late on Monday night there were suggestions that it was being considered by some.

It would cause a political crisis for the newly elected leader if he was unable to rally all his Labour Senedd members behind him.

A meeting was held of Labour politicians to discuss concerns on Monday evening.