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New Wales first minister elected

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New Wales first minister elected

Economy Minister Vaughan Gething will succeed Mark Drakeford

Vaughan Gething has been elected as the next Welsh Labour leader and First Minister of Wales.

Labour members have chosen Mr Gething, 49, to be their next party leader, succeeding Mark Drakeford, who has held the position since 2018.

Mr Gething beat his only rival, the education minister Jeremy Miles.

The current minister for the economy, Mr Gething is expected to be declared the country’s fifth leader since the National Assembly for Wales, now called the Senedd, was established in 1999.

His appointment as Welsh Labour leader was announced on Saturday morning in a lecture hall at Cardiff University.

However, he will not take over as first minister until Wednesday – when a vote will be held in the Senedd.

The handover in power comes as Wales faces a challenging time, including farmers protesting, NHS waiting lists hitting record highs and an economy recovering from the coronavirus pandemic.

Only Labour members or part of an affiliated organisation, such as a trade union, were able to participate in the vote – meaning about 100,000 people were able to take part.

Mr Gething had the backing of most of the large unions, and Lord Kinnock, who led the UK party from 1983 to 1992.

While Mr Miles saw support from the majority of the Labour members of the Senedd.

The leadership race has not been without controversy, most of which has centred on Mr Gething.

There have been a string of concerns raised around £200,000 of donations to Mr Gething from a company which was found guilty of environmental offences in January.

Atlantic Recycling, which is part of Dauson Environmental Group and controlled by David Neal, gave Mr Gething £100,000 on December 18 2023 and £100,000 on January 11 2024.

Atlantic Recycling was also fined £300,000 for one of its worker’s deaths in February after it pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety at work rules.

Earlier this week the BBC revealed that Mr Gething had lobbied regulators in favour of the company, asking Natural Resources Wales to ease restrictions on Atlantic Recycling in 2016.

Mr Gething and his team have always insisted the donation was declared in line with Senedd and Electoral Commission rules and that the minister is committed to transparency.

Early in the campaign concerns were also raised over the Unite union’s backing of Mr Gething, after his opponent was disqualified because he has never held “elected lay office as representatives of workers”.

Mr Miles said it was “a new rule that no-one was aware of” and that members were unhappy.

But Unite insisted it had carried out the nomination process correctly and Mr Gething said it was up to the union to determine its own democratic processes.

Unlike previous Labour leadership elections, all the votes are equally weighted.

Selection in the past has used an “electoral college” system, giving greater weight to MPs and Members of the Senedd.

Mr Drakeford is not expected to stand down immediately, with his final first minister’s questions on March 19.

A vote will also need to take place in the Senedd at which opposition groups can put forward their own candidates.

With Labour the largest party, it is unlikely that any other group would take the role.

Published: by Radio NewsHub

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