Mark Drakeford is stepping down as First Minister of Wales with immediate effect, he has announced today.

It means that a leadership contest will take place, with Vaughan Gething and Jeremy Miles top of the list for the job.

Mr Drakeford previously said he would leave the post before the end of the current Senedd term in 2026, and said in the summer that he would leave the Welsh parliament at the next election.

He was elected as first minister in December 2018.

In a statement, Mr Drakeford said that a new leader will be elected by Easter and that he will remain as first minister until someone is selected to replace him.

James Evans, MS for Brecon and Radnorshire, said: “I want to wish Mark all the very best on his future as he departs the frontline of Welsh politics. Mark and I disagreed on many areas of policy. His commitment to the job of First Minister is commendable, along with his attention to detail, his knowledge and his research on a multitude of topics.

“His departure must not be a distraction for other Labour Members to take their eye off the ball on delivering for the people of Wales as Labour representatives come forward to replace him.”

Fay Jones, MP for Brecon and Radnorshire, said: “You have to admire Mark Drakeford’s commitment to public service. His contribution to Welsh national life has been significant and enduring. While I disagreed with some of his views, he is a deeply principled man. I wish him nothing but the very best for the future.”