Drakeford resigns: Eluned Morgan out of Wales leader race

  • By David Deans
  • BBC Wales political reporter

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

Eluned Morgan has confirmed she will not be standing to be the next first minister of Wales

Health Minister Eluned Morgan has ruled herself out of the running to be Wales’ next first minister.

She confirmed she will not enter the race to replace Mark Drakeford, in a statement on X, formerly Twitter.

The Mid and West Wales Member of the Senedd (MS) was third in the last Welsh Labour leadership contest in 2018.

But Education Minister Jeremy Miles secured the required number of backers to put himself forward, after Mr Drakeford said he would stand down.

Hannah Blythyn, deputy minister for social partnership, announced she would not run on Friday evening, and said she was backing Mr Miles.

Ms Morgan said she was “humbled by the support from fellow MSs, MPs, councillors and party members” who encouraged her to stand again.

In the health role Ms Morgan has faced major problems, including record waiting lists and the troubled Betsi Cadwaladr health board in north Wales.

She said her “unwavering focus remains dedicated to navigating the health service through what will undoubtedly be one of the most challenging winters, exacerbated by the severe financial constraints and economic challenges brought about by the Tories’ mismanagement of the economy”.

She added: “I stand ready to support the next Labour leader in Wales to deliver a political programme that will focus on delivering social justice, growing the economy and protecting the most vulnerable in society.”

So far only Economy Minister Vaughan Gething has officially confirmed he is running, although Mr Miles also has the required support from fellow MSs to get his name on the ballot paper to be sent to Welsh Labour Party members.

The contest was triggered after Mark Drakeford announced he would quit.

MSs can join the contest if they can get the backing of five of their colleagues in the Welsh Parliament, also known as Senedd Cymru.

Mr Gething won eight supporters from the Labour Senedd group on Thursday.

As of Friday morning Mr Miles, who is expected to confirm his candidacy in the coming days, has the required five.

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

Jeremy Miles, like Vaughan Gething, has long been seen as a potential future Welsh Labour leader

Ministers Julie James and Lesley Griffiths declared their support for Mr Miles on Thursday, while Rhondda MS Buffy Williams, Ogmore MS Huw Irranca Davies and Senedd deputy presiding officer David Rees announced they were backing him overnight.

Ms Williams said: “We need to be grown-ups, we need to work together, we need to build on the relationships we have already developed with opposition parties to make it through this difficult time.

“For me, this can only be achieved with Jeremy Miles as our first minister.”

Mr Miles’ campaign has also been backed by the former Welsh Secretary Lord Hain.

Mr Miles, 52, has been education minister since May 2021.

Born and brought up in Pontarddulais, he studied law in Oxford and worked in legal and commercial jobs in media organisations including ITV and NBC Universal.

He was elected to the Senedd in 2016 as Neath MS.

A Welsh Labour committee will agree the timetable for the election on Friday.


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