RACE ON TO BE NEXT FM AS CARWYN QUITS
Shock announcement at conference
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”.
Carwyn Jones at the Labour conference in Llandudno, and left, with leader Jeremy Corbyn