New Welsh Government Announced

(Title Image: BBC Wales)

With Mark Drakeford (Lab, Cardiff West) officially sworn in as First Minister earlier today, his first task was to form a new Cabinet.

Kirsty Williams (Lib Dem, Brecon & Radnor), Dafydd Elis-Thomas (Ind, Dwyfor Meirionnydd), Ken Skates (Lab, Clwyd South), Lesley Griffiths (Lab, Wrexham) and Vaughan Gething (Lab, Cardiff S. & Penarth) stay in their old posts – though some might’ve been retitled.

Jeremy Miles (Lab, Neath) retains his post as Counsel General but will also be Wales’ Brexit Minister.

Curiously, there’s no mention of a “Minister for North Wales” as promised in Mark Drakeford’s leadership campaign. Ken Skates has since confirmed he’ll be taking up ministerial responsibilities for North Wales. Also, the Welsh Government as a whole is gender-balanced 50:50 while the Cabinet alone (including the Chief Whip) is majority women.

Cabinet Changes

Finance Minister & Trefnydd (“Leader of the House”)

In: Rebecca Evans AM (Lab, Gower)
Out: Mark Drakeford AM (Lab, Cardiff West)

A big promotion for Rebecca Evans. It’s one of the most important roles in the Welsh Government and is a clear sign of faith by the new First Minister. Mark Drakeford has opted for a Welsh title for what is known as Leader of the House (who arranges government business).

Minister for Housing & Local Government

In: Julie James AM (Lab, Swansea West)
Out: Alun Davies AM (Lab, Blaenau Gwent)

This is Alun Davies’ old job but re-titled. It’s effectively a promotion for Julie and is part of a commitment by Mark Drakeford to create a cabinet-level post for housing. Alun returns to the backbenches – where he’s traditionally been stronger – and hasn’t been able to hold down a government role yet again.

Minister for International Relations & Welsh Language

New position: Eluned Morgan AM (Lab, Mid & West Wales)

The Economy & Infrastructure Committee recently recommended that the Welsh Government create a cabinet-level post dedicated to external affairs and Eluned has got that job, whilst retaining her Welsh language responsibilities. It’s unclear as of yet what her international affairs role will entail. Will it be trade? Will it a semi-diplomatic role? Will it clash with Jeremy Miles’ Brexit portfolio?

Chief Whip

In: Jane Hutt AM (Lab, Vale of Glamorgan)
Out: Julie James AM (Lab, Swansea West)

A surprise return to (near) the top of Welsh politics for Jane Hutt, who left government in the ill-fated November 2017 reshuffle. It’s unclear if this means she’s also the new Leader of the House as the press release said she also has an unspecified Deputy Ministerial role – maybe as a floating “Minister without Portfolio” or Deputy First Minister.

Junior Ministers

Deputy Minister for Health

In: Julie Morgan AM (Lab, Cardiff North)
Out: Huw Irranca-Davies AM (Lab, Ogmore)

Considering the close relationship between Mark Drakeford and Rhodri Morgan, it’s perhaps not entirely surprising that Julie Morgan received a ministerial job – effectively taking over from Huw Irranca-Davies, who will be taking up a role with a post-Brexit regional policy committee.

Deputy Minister for Local Government & Housing

In: Hannah Blythyn AM (Lab, Delyn)
Out: Rebecca Evans AM (Lab, Gower)

As Rebecca Evans is promoted, Hannah Blythyn takes a sidewards step into Rebecca’s old (re-titled) junior minister role.

Deputy Minister for Economy & Transport

New position: Lee Waters AM (Lab, Llanelli)

It was somewhat inevitable that Lee would get a ministerial position at some point, but this appointment has potentially big implications. Lee is one of the most outspoken critics of the M4 Newport bypass while his “supervisor/boss”, Ken Skates, has spoken out in favour of the bypass in principle. Will he compromise his principles and vote for things he doesn’t agree with to remain in post? Or will he help push policy – on transport and things like digital/automation – in his preferred direction?

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