Vaughan Gething wins Welsh Labour leadership contest: What happens next?

Head of Public Affairs, Craig Lawton, sets out what we can expect following the result of the Welsh Labour leadership contest. 16th March 2024


Vaughan Gething has today been announced as the winner of the Welsh Labour leadership contest.

Three months after Mark Drakeford signalled his intent to step down as First Minister, we have confirmation of who will very shortly take over the reins of Welsh Government.


When will Vaughan Gething become First Minister?

On Tuesday 19th March 2024, Mark Drakeford will carry out his final First Minister’s Questions.

Following this he will formally write to the King to tender his resignation from the role of First Minister. Once the King has accepted this resignation, the Senedd will formally select a new First Minister.

The selection of the new First Minister will take place on Wednesday 20th March 2024 in the Senedd.

MSs will be asked to nominate candidates for First Minister.

Following his successful election as the Leader of Welsh Labour, Vaughan Gething will be nominated by the Welsh Labour group.

If no other candidates are nominated, then Vaughan Gething will become the new First Minister unopposed.

However, other parties in the Senedd are entitled to also nominate candidates as well, as has on occasions previously happened. If this happens there will then be a vote, carried out by a roll call of those MSs present.

With Welsh Labour holding 30 of the 60 seats in the Senedd, Vaughan Gething will be expected to win the nomination.

While he will then be the “First Minister designate”, it will require the King to formally appoint him as the new First Minister, as has been the case with previous First Ministers being officially appointed by the Queen. It is expected that all of this will take place on the same day.


When will a new Welsh Government cabinet be appointed?

As soon as Vaughan Gething is officially confirmed as First Minister, they can start to construct their new cabinet.

It is likely he will have started planning this already, and therefore changes to ministerial titles and responsibilities as well as personnel could come within a matter of hours or days.

It would be very surprising if these changes were not completed by Easter.

While Vaughan Gething released a manifesto during the campaign, he is also expected to confirm a new Programme for Government which will detail his plans for the remainder of this Senedd, which is due to run until May 2026.


Does this change when the next Senedd election will be held?

The next Senedd election is scheduled to take place in May 2026.

As with previous changes of First Minister in Wales, this will not have any impact on when the next Senedd election takes place.

The only caveat to this is that if, at the First Minister nomination phase, there was a draw between First Minister candidates that went on for a month, then a new election would be called to break the deadlock. However, due to the political makeup of the Senedd, this is extremely unlikely to happen.

However, as Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer continue to plan for the Westminster General Election, both are likely to have an eye on the Welsh electorate’s reaction to Vaughan Gething becoming First Minister.

Grasshopper Communications will continue to keep you updated as Vaughan Gething announces his new Cabinet and Programme for Government.