Gething confirmed as Wales’ new first ministeron March 20, 2024 at 7:37 pm

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Vaughan Gething is backed as Wales’ new first minister in a Senedd vote to succeed Mark Drakeford.

Vaughan GethingImage source, Welsh government

Vaughan Gething has been confirmed as Wales’ new first minister after a vote in the Welsh Parliament.

He will succeed Mark Drakeford, who bowed out with an emotional speech on Tuesday, after five years at the helm.

Mr Gething, the first black leader of a national government in Europe, said he wanted to lead a Wales “full of hope, ambition and unity”.

He was backed by 27 Senedd members, Tory Andrew RT Davies had 13 votes and Plaid Cymru’s Rhun ap Iorwerth 11.

Mr Gething’s name was then sent to the King who gave his approval, allowing the new first minister to officially take office.

In a ceremony in Cardiff Bay, he made an affirmation to the King before a senior judge, allowing him to turn his mind to appointing a cabinet.

At lunchtime the new leader was congratulated by the prime minister in the Commons on Wednesday, and spoke to Rishi Sunak later on Wednesday afternoon.

Mr Gething, who represents the Cardiff South and Penarth seat in Cardiff Bay, narrowly won the Welsh Labour leadership election but there have been questions about financial donations to his campaign.

In his first words after being nominated as first minister in the Senedd chamber, Mr Gething, thanked Mr Drakeford “for everything you have done for Wales”.

Becoming first minister as a black person was “a matter of pride,” he said, “I believe for a modern Wales, but also a daunting responsibility for me that I do not take lightly”.

“Today, we can also expect the depressingly familiar pattern to emerge: abuse on social media, racist tropes disguised with polite language.

“People questioning my motives and, yes, they will still question or deny my nationality, whilst others question why I’m ‘playing the race card’.

“To those people, I say once more – it is very easy not to care about identity when your own has never once been questioned or held you back.”

Vaughan Gething sighing the affirmation with Mr Justice Griffiths

Image source, Welsh government

Mr Gething, 50, 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’ future,” he said, anticipating a Labour victory in the UK general election due in the next 10 months.”

Mr Gething said he wanted to promote “kinder, more effective politics”, over what he called the “forces of division”.

“As first minister, I will bring together a government that constantly makes the positive case for progressive politics.

“To remind people, that only through coming together, can we achieve for the many.”

Vaughan Gething

Image source, Welsh government

At the start of Prime Ministers Question’s in the Commons Rishi Sunak congratulated Mr Gething, and wished his predecessor Mark Drakeford well.

“The government I lead will always work tirelessly to benefit the lives of people across the United Kingdom, and I look forward to working constructively with the new first minister to deliver for the people of Wales,” said Mr Sunak.

UK Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said Mr Gething’s ascent to the top of the Welsh government “as the first black leader of any European government – it’s a historic moment that speaks to the progress and values of modern day Wales”.

“And I also pay tribute to Mark Drakeford for his long, steady service in Wales.”

Mr Gething was congratulated by Welsh Conservative Senedd group leader Andrew RT Davies, who called on him to make a “fresh start” by scrapping “Labour’s vanity projects” and delivering “for our NHS, for our schools and for families up and down Wales”.

“Our message to Vaughan is clear. If you are prepared to scrap plans for more politicians, to scrap the 20mph speed limit, and scrap the Sustainable Farming Scheme as it stands in its current form, we will work with you to deliver the people’s priorities.”

Mark Drakeford

Image source, Welsh government

Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth also welcomed Mr Gething to his new role, but warned the “ongoing questions around donations to Vaughan Gething’s campaign is now a serious cloud over the office of first minister”.

Some Labour politicians are unhappy about donations to the incoming first minister’s leadership campaign from a company whose owner has been convicted of environmental offences.

Dauson Environmental Group, a business in Mr Gething’s Cardiff South and Penarth constituency, gave his campaign £200,000.

Mr Gething has said there should be a review of the rules for funding future campaigns.

“We will leave no stone unturned in holding the new first minister and his Labour Welsh government to account,” said Mr ap Iorwerth.

Prominent critics of Mr Gething, such as Lee Waters and Alun Davies, were among those who supported him on Wednesday.

There were three Labour absences in the roll call vote – Rhianon Passmore, Buffy Williams and Jenny Rathbone – and three from the Conservatives, Darren Millar, James Evans and Russell George.

The BBC was told that the two groups of MSs were paired with each other – an arrangement that agrees absences between the government and opposition parties.

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