Mark Drakeford broke down in tears as he delivered his resignation statement as First Minister. Members of the Senedd thumped their desks as the Cardiff West MS stood up to give his final address to the chamber as the leader of the Welsh Government.

Mr Drakeford told the Senedd that he had been determined to do difficult things and not to make the easy decisions. He referred to his decision to cancel the M4 relief road as one of those decisions.

The 69-year-old sobbed as a spoke about how hard the last 12 months had been and the loss of his wife Clare. He said: "The last 12 months has been the hardest and saddest of my life and people beyond the chamber will not see those small acts of kindness from all parts of this chamber that help someone to get through the saddest of times."

Read more: Mark Drakeford in the words of the people who know him best

He also thanked the people of Wales for the selfies they had taken and the memories he would have. He spoke about attending in 2021 in the depths of the pandemic an event at Aberfan when he stood outside in the rain and prayed for the children and adults who had been lost.

Referring to the people he spoke to there who had been at the school on that dreadful day in Aberfan, he said: " In that moment, that extraordinary moment, as I was speaking directly to them, I really did feel our history, our Welsh history echoing down those years. That sense of solidarity and suffering, a determination never to forget what has made us what we are today. That sense of duty of care, not simply to our friends nad our neighbours but people we will never know and never meet but where deep in the Welsh experience we understand that their fates are bound up in ours. And the future of any one of us is bound up in the future of us all."

You can follow all the live updates below:

Resignation statement in full

You can read Mark Drakeford's statement in full here.

Tomorrow we will see the vote for the next First Minister take place. We know Andrew RT Davies, Rhun an Iorwerth and Vaughan Gething are all in the running.

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Mark Drakeford's final questions

Mark Drakeford during his final First Minister's Questions at the Senedd in Cardiff (Image: Welsh Government)
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Mr Drakeford leaves the chamber

Mark Drakeford, visibly emotional, thanks his colleagues and takes a sip of water.

He gathers his papers, and is clapped out of the chamber followed by his ally Jane Hutt.

We know Mr Drakeford will now go to sign a resignation letter, which will be sent to the King.

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'I look forward very much being a nuisance to you all'

"I hope we did, led our way through Covid which made people in Wales feel they were being kept safe that they had a government determined to look after them," he says, speaking of the pandemic.

He says he has had to re-read a number of Senedd debates before the inquiry and says "it was not an easy experience".

Mr Drakeford says: "The feeling of fear is absolutely palpable, you can feel it in the contributions people made." "We have forgotten a bit," he says.

"Can I end with a couple of thoughts peole have offered about kindness. I would occasionnaly phone my mother after FMQs and she'd say 'I saw you on the TV today' and I'd say 'was it any good?' and she's say 'I wasn't listening.' "We need to be reminded of that, you step outside the building and people are going about their ordinary lives".

He tells Andrew RT Davies that he won't forget him "careering" over four lanes of traffic to wish him luck on an election day. "While we're fiercely attached to our values, on that personal level we do live out a kinder, gentler politics that we would like to see," he says.

"I look forward very much being a nuisance to you all," he says, but then turns to Vaughan Gething saying "except the First Minister", to much laughter.

There's another standing ovation.

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'I think of Rhodri a lot'

Mr Drakeford gets to close the debate. "Thank you for reminding us of some other friends, I was hugely privileged to have that 10 years of working alongside Rhodri Morgan," he says. "I think of him a lot on Tuesdays because unlike me who has to spend long hours at weekends making sure I'm prepared for this, Rhodri would essentially start on a Tuesday morning".

His wife, Julie, MS for Cardiff North, is in the chamber. Her neighbour Hannah Blythyn leans to give her a reassuring arm.

"Even when you're the best prepared you can be, the nature of questions is you can be taken by surprise". He recalls being told he had to tell Rhodri Morgan that a group of civil servants had been found in a sauna in Llandovery on a "bonding exercise".

"Thankyou for reminding me, and us all, of that giant of Welsh politics". "I sat in the back there, I sat next door to Gwyn Price, a wonderful colleague".

Mr Drakeford pays tribute to Carl Sargeant too. "He was an enormous part of our lives, those of us who knew him, it had a profound effect on us."

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'Thankyou for your service'

Labour MS for Cynon Valley Vikki Howells is speaking on behalf of the Welsh Labour group.

She says "for the most part" he will be remembered for his leadership in the pandemic. "The pandemic may have been the defining moments but it wasn't the only moment which stands out. Mark led our party to a historic win in the 2021 Senedd election. A year later he led us to a fantastic win in the local government election."

She says he has delivered on policies for people across Wales and finding "innovative" ways to advance policy ideas.

"We've passed 21 acts," she says, talking about snare bans, the smacking ban and rent reform.

"Thankyou for your service and all you've achieved for the people of Wales".

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'Your passion and commitment to our young people has been so evident'

Lib Dem Jane Dodds says "it's a great privilege" for her to speak despite not knowing Mr Drakeford well. She says she went to her first meeting with him worried "about what we will talk about" she ays they turned to universal basic income "which we're both passionate about". "I virtually skipped out of Cathays Park to find someone who not only knew about UBI but wanted it to happen," she says, referencing the policy which gives care leavers money every month to spend as they need.

"Your passion and commitment to our young people has been so evident and I thank you for that," she says.

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'A serious First Minister for serious times'

Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth takes his turn to speak. He says he has got to know the First Minister and "i've seen for myself what I am absolutely sure we have all come to appreciate, he has been, without doubt, a serious First Minister for serious times".

Mr ap Iorwerth says there were many challenges facing Wales pre-pandemic, but there's no doubt Covid derailed his plans.

He says he is very proud of what his party and the Welsh Government has achieved together. "Bold policies that will change lives".

"There have been some difficult conversations betwen us, but doing so entirely sincerely I would like to thank him for the respect shown".

"As a cheese lover myself I hope those exchanges have been less salty than his beloved Caerphilly cheese".

"Mark brought thoughtfulness and good grace," he says.

Mr ap Iorwerth wishes him well from all of Plaid Cymru.

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'That's why you've won elections, to be fair'

Andrew RT Davies speaks and tells Mr Drakeford "that's why you've won elections".

Mr Davies says the Parliament had "just been hit by the tragedy of the death of Carl Sargeant" when Mark Drakeford took over. "You managed not to just knit together the Labour party and the Labour group, but the Senedd as a whole. That was an important point of leadership. Those of us who were here then really felt hte pain that tragedy brought."

Mr Davies says his political rival showed guidance during the pandemic. "I thank you for that leadership, that's not saying I agree with everything you did, but the leadership you showed benefitted this country".

Mr Davies references the heated debate the two men had over the NHS. He says that sort of debate shows the "conviction" they had.

Mr Davies, also now visibly emotional, thanks Mark Drakeford for contacting him when he took time off for his mental health. He says he expects there to continue to be debate with him on the backbenches.

"Thankyou for what you've done for me personally, but for this country and institution".

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Resounding standing ovation

Mr Drakeford says that he has been asked about his memories many times. He says in 2021, in the depths of the pandemic. He says he went to Aberfan. "We stood outside in the pouring rain while Bishop June of Llandaff prayed for the lives of the children and adlts who had been lost." He says he sat in the hall afterwards, speaking to Prof Sir Mansel Aylward, and was told how, as a young medical student he went to Aberfan that afternoon to help in the rescue effort. "An experience so traumatic that for decades he wasn't able to tell even his most close family members he had been there."

"I remember the most being introduced to two ladies, both now well on in life and being told as young people in their 20s, both had been teachers present in the school, when over 100 primary school children lost their lives. In that moment, as I was speaking directly to them, I really did feel our history, our Welsh history echoing down those years. That sense of solidarity and suffering, a determination never to forget what we are today. That sense so many people did in 1966 of a duty of care, not simply to our friends nad our neighbours but people we will never know and never meet but where deep in the Welsh experience we understand that their fates are bound in ours. And the future of any one of us is bound up in us all.

"There was a determination never to forget what we are today, but equally determined to live in today's world. Caring about people who need the collective good of government the most.

"These ar the great stregnths of the nation we are, they have sustained me in the most difficult times, I'm grateful to all, I'm grateful to colleagues, and most grateful to the people we are lucky enough to serve".

There is a resounding standing ovation, and plenty of tears, from within the chmaber, and the gallery.

Mark Drakeford then gestures to his good friend, and visibly emotional Jane Hutt, telling her to start getting people to sit down.

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Mark Drakeford breaks down as he recalls the hardest year

Mr Drakeford breaks down in tears, something many of his colleagues do too, as he talks about the last 12 months and how hard they had been since losing his wife, Clare. Several of his colleagues, and political opponents look to be fighting tears back too.

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'M4 relief road was his first decision'

Mr Drakeford repeats that he has used his time to do the "difficult" things. He says "in politics you will always face vested interets, some benign, some determined not to surrender".

He says the first major decisoin he had to make was whether or not to proceed with the M4. The "easy" decision would have been to give the green light, he said. His decision was "that was not in the long interests of Wales". He says in the last few weeks about reforming council tax, the school year, and taking profit from social care, he has had to "stick to the things you believe will make the biggest difference".

Mr Drakeford says: "Of course there are thanks that need to be offered". He thanks all those who keep ministers "on their feet" and "in their place" from civil servants, staff to special advisers.

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'I've worked with four PMs, five chancellors,  six Duchy's of Lancaster'

Mark Drakeford tells the Senedd he breaks a joke saying "always leave them wanting more" but after doing his FMQs and opening and closing a debate, people will want a break from him.

He says that in 2018, he gave his first FMQs and immediately faced the prospect of a no deal Brexit, and then the storms which impacted Wales, Covid, Ukraine and the conflict in the middle east.

"The turbulence we've seen abroad has been matche closer to home, I've worked with four PMs, five chancellors, six Duchy's of Lancaster and I've lost count of ministers further down the pecking order".

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Resignation statement to begin

The First Minister is just finishing his comments to a debate on the final report of the Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales. Then, he will give his resignation statement, the whole item - including replies - is due to last 30 minutes.

The chamber is all but full of Senedd members for the statement.

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Muted and low key FMQs

A rather muted and low key FMQs ends there with deputy presiding officer David Rees thanking the First Minister, there is applause from both within the chamber (from some but not all politicians) and within the public gallery.

Mr Drakeford remains in his seat for now, but his next official speaking section will be at 3.45pm for his resignation statement when we are expecting words from him, then both Andrew RT Davies and Rhun ap Iorwerth, followed by Lib Dem Jane Dodds, and Vikki Howells on behalf of the Labour group.

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Mark Drakeford reflects on Aberfan

Mr Drakeford is asked by Rhondda MS about coal tips, and she thanks him for his help in February 2020 in the wake of Storm Dennis when the coal tip at Tylorstown slipped causing fears of a repeat of the deadly scenes.

Mr Drakeford says he remembers returning home from school in October 1966 to find the TV on during the day, something he says was unusual, to see images of Aberfan and how the images from Tylorstown after the storm in 2020 were reminscent of the tragedy.

He says when he is asked about regrets in his term as First MInister, he says he regrets that Covid means "we are yet to have a coal tip safety bill" but he says there will be one this term which will put regulation and inspection onto the statute book.

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'People may not know he has seen Calendar Girls'

Conservative MS Sam Kurtz shares with the siambr that Mr Drakeford has attended the Queen's Hall in Narberth to see Calendar Girls - a production where WI members create a nude calendar. His question goes on to ask about supporting live venues.

Mr Drakeford says he feels he needs to clarify it was a "live" performance which involved some "very brave artists".

He tells the chamber that live music venues are an important part of Wales and the industry is under pressure.

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20mph: 'We will all look back and wonder what all the fuss was about'

Tom Giffard asks about 20mph, something that gains groans from the public gallery - which no doubt is stacked with Labour supporters. Mr Giffard asks Mr Drakeford if he will use his last hours to scrap the law, something which gains laughs from those surrounding us.

Mr Drakeford reiterates, as you'd expect, reducing speed limits will save lives. "I've said in the series of interviews I've had to give in the last few days, if you're in the very fortunate posiiton I'm in, then your responsibility is to use the political capital you have not to do the easy things, or pander to populist headlines. Here in this government we are determined, we will always do the right thing.

"I think 20mph speed limts are already changing peoples minds and before very long we will all look back and wonder what the fuss was all about."

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'You need to rebuild trust'

Mr Drakeford is asked about comments he made "blaming drunks" and Mr Gething mocking "serious journalists" for asking questions about donations he faced.

Several members think the £200,000 plus that has been received to Mr Gething's campaign should be paid back, Mr ap Iorwerth says. He says that is important for trust.

Let me simply say this, I was elected to this Senedd on the same day as the member for Cardiff South and Penarth and we've always represented parts of this great city, we were placed on the health committee in those early days, we have worked together when I was health minister and he was deputy. We worked together as closely as you can imagine in those days of the pandemic.

I know what a careful and considered person he is. He doesn't need advice from me. I look foward to supporting him and the government from the back benches.

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Starmer has spoken to both Labour candidates

Sir Keir Starmer has spoken to Mark Drakeford, new Welsh Labour leader Vaughan Gething, and runner-up Jeremy Miles this weekend, the First Minister says.

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'We have to earn every vote'

Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth references a tweet by Mr Drakeford that "his party alone" has a bond with the people of Wales and whether "Jeremy Miles is right that trust has to be earned".

Mr Drakeford says: "We have to earn every vote".

He says the history of politics here is that Labour has always had the largest number of seats but "never alone" and has been able to form "progressive alliances". He says: "I think we have demonstrated here that mature, progressive politics puts you in a place where you do want to work with others."

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'We've had colourful and interesting exchanges'

Andrew RT Davies says the pair have had some "colourful" and "interesting" exchanges over the years. He asks him what experience as First Minister he will give Vaughan Gething.

I absolutely have never doubted the commitment the leader of the opposition brings.

He says: "In terms of preparation I just say to my successor it will take up hours and hours of his time because it;s unavoidable that you come here" you are asked questions that require knowledge from across every government area.

Mr Drakeford says "If I had a hope for this forum and these questions it's just occasionally we focus on generating light not heat".

He says people tune in to watch and "the reason they do that is because they hope to learn something". "Every now and then, just a bit of casting a bit of light about those subjects rather than generating heat around them".

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'We are better prepared for a future pandemic'

Mr Davies uses his second question to talk about the Covid inquiry. He asks: "Are we in a better position today with preparedness Welsh Government has put in place?"

Mr Drakeford says he can give an assurance "if something happens in the future" Wales will be better prepared.

He says "there are lessons that have already been learned" and more will come as a result of the inquiry's report.

Mr Drakeford says it is "almost inherent" in a pandemic that it will not be the same if there is another pandemic.

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'Challenging' situation at Tata

Questions from the opposition are up now. Andrew RT Davies points out that there will be tributes later in the afternoon. He asks about the news from Tata yesterday that the coking ovens will close. He asks the Fisrt Minister what conversations the government has had with Tata.

Mr Drakeford says the news is "challenging" and "serious". Mr Drakeford says Mr Gething met with senior management yesterday and spoke with the UK chief executive yesterday.

"We understand if there are critical operaitonal safety issues at stake they have to take precedence".

Mr Drakeford says there is an assurance the closure will not bring forward other closures.

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Plaid will put Rhun ap Iorwerth's name forward for First Minister

Confirmation from Plaid Cymru that it will put forward the name of Rhun ap Iorwerth to be First Minister tomorrow.

Plaid Cymru will nominate Rhun ap Iorwerth in the vote to elect a new First Minister of Wales tomorrow. The math dictates that Vaughan Gething will secure a majority vote, but in the current political climate, questions about judgement and transparency requires alternative candidates to be considered.

Andrew RT Davies will also have his name on the list.

So as it stands, it will be a three horse race:

  • Vaughan Gething
  • Andrew RT Davies
  • Rhun ap Iorwerth
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'I won't be giving advice'

Mr Drakeford references his "successor" Vaughan Gething, sat two seats to his left. He says he is not giving advice but says Wales has a good standing in the world which he should "build on". "I am absolutely certainly he will want to build on that for the benefit of the Welsh people," Mr Drakeford says.

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'Party political animal'

Most of the tributes will come later this afternoon when Mr Drakeford gives his resignation statement, expected around 3.45pm. For now, it's the day job.

You can read Mark Drakeford in the words of the people who know him best here. Some of the quotes given by political adversaries were "father of the nation" and "party political animal".

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Questions started by Adam Price

The gallery, which we were told was fully booked (but certainly isn't) is a mix of school and organised trips, visitors, some of Mark Drakeford's staff and a journalists. No doubt Mark Drakeford has received a number of gifts today, Conservative MS Laura Anne Jones dropping off a homemade lemon drizzle cake.

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FMQs begins

First Minister's Questions is about to begin. David Rees is in the presiding officer chair as Elin Jones is absent for family reasons.

Mark Drakeford 's front row of cabinet members is full of his colleagues with all but the new Welsh Labour leader Vaughan Gething (for now) as the session begins.

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