RACE ON TO BE NEXT FM AS CAR­WYN QUITS

Shock an­nounce­ment at con­fer­ence

Bangor Mail - - NEWS - Ruth Mos­al­ski

CAR­WYN JONES’ shock an­nounce­ment that he will step down as Welsh Labour leader and First Minister has fired the start­ing gun on the race to suc­ceed him.

Mr Jones’ emo­tional ad­dress to the party’s con­fer­ence in Llan­dudno at the week­end left many, in­clud­ing his fam­ily and some of his cabi­net col­leagues, in tears.

He told col­leagues he and his fam­ily had been through the “dark­est of times”.

In the wake of the an­nounce­ment, politi­cians paid trib­ute to his achieve­ments since he be­came First Minister in 2009.

Labour leader Jeremy Cor­byn, in his speech to the con­fer­ence yes­ter­day, was one.

The pair, who have had their pub­lic dis­agree­ments, stood next to each other on stage and raised their arms to­gether to cheers.

Mr Cor­byn told del­e­gates Mr Jones had made a “tire­less com­mit­ment” to Labour.

He said: “Thank you, Car­wyn, for all you have done, and will do. You are not done yet, mate.

“This con­fer­ence must pay trib­ute to Car­wyn for his tire­less com­mit­ment to Wales, to a more equal coun­try, and the de­ter­mi­na­tion to stand up for the peo­ple of Wales and be a strong voice for de­vo­lu­tion and democ­racy.”

Mr Jones stunned the con­fer­ence on Satur­day by an­nounc­ing he would stand down in the au­tumn, and said he wanted his suc­ces­sor in place by De­cem­ber.

Sourcess close to him said he had made his de­ci­sion last Septem­ber, and d while hil it was not t li linked k d t to th the death of Alyn and Dee­side AM Carl Sargeant or the af­ter­math, the last few months had taken a se­ri­ous toll on him and his fam­ily.

Mr Jones paid trib­ute to his wife Lisa their two chil­dren, Seren and Ruiari, and his par­ents in his speech on Satur­day.

He said that de­spite prid­ing him­self on be­ing a fair per­son, he had not al­ways been fair to his fam­ily.

He spoke of how he lost his mother just days be­fore run­ning for the lead­er­ship in 2009.

“She was a great in­flu­ence on me and she had a great tal­ent of be­ing able to talk to any­body and a healthy dis­dain of snob­bery, which I hope I’ve man­aged to fol­low,” he said.

“Run­ning for the lead­er­ship in 2009 while she was ter­mi­nally ill was one of the most dif­fi­cult things I’ve had to do, and she’s missed by us all.”

He said he wanted to thank all party mem­bers for their sup­port.

“Our to­geth­er­ness has been po­lit­i­cal kryp­tonite to the op­po­si­tion, and your sup­port for me through this pe­riod has been more than any leader could ask for,” he said.

Af­ter the an­nounce­ment, Labour fig­ures ex­pressed their shock.

New Welsh Labour deputy leader Carolyn Har­ris MP said: “Car­wyn is a tow­er­ing fig­ure in Welsh pol­i­tics and has played a huge role in turn­ing Welsh Labour into the camp paign­ing force that it is to­day.

“As Welsh Labour leader and First Minister for al­most a decade, he has led our party and coun­try with pass sion, com­mit­ment and in­tegrity.”

Cabi­net sec­re­tary for Welsh Lang guage and life­long learn­ing Eluned M Mor­gan AM said: “I think it was a re­ally emo­tional speech. You could tell the kind of pres­sure he has been un­der for sev­eral months. It’s clear he wants to re­lieve some of that by mak­ing this an­nounce­ment now.”

Leader of the Welsh Con­ser­va­tives An­drew RT Davies wrote a mes­sage to Mr Jones on Twit­ter.

Mr Davies wrote: “We’ve en­tered pub­lic life from dif­fer­ent po­lit­i­cal per­spec­tives, ex­chang­ing many blows over the years.

“Such sig­nif­i­cant ser­vice in Wales’ high­est pub­lic of­fice will have had a huge im­pact on both him and his fam­ily. I wish Car­wyn Jones and fam­ily the very best for what lies ahead.”

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood said: “I con­grat­u­late Car­wyn Jones on his nine years as First Minister of Wales and wish him and his fam­ily the best for the fu­ture.

“Wales’ government has been led by the Labour Party for 19 years. Over that time our econ­omy, our NHS, our schools and our lo­cal ser­vices have been al­lowed to weaken and di­min­ish. Peo­ple and our com­mu­nity in­fra­struc­ture have fallen fur­ther and fur­ther be­hind.

“Wales needs more than a change of leader. We need a new government”.

PIC­TURES: SEAN PURSEY

Car­wyn Jones at the Labour con­fer­ence in Llan­dudno, and left, with leader Jeremy Cor­byn

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