Vaughan Gething will be the new First Minister of Wales after beating Jeremy Miles in the Welsh Labour leadership contest.

The party said he achieved 51.7% of the vote to 48.3% for his opponent. Welsh Labour reported 57.8% of members voted and 9.4% of affiliates, giving an overall turnout of 16.1%

He will be the first black man ever to lead the country, having already been the first black person to become a cabinet minister in any of the UK's devolved governments, and the first to lead any European country.

Mr Gething was born in Zambia a Welsh father and Zambian mother and replaces the outgoing Mark Drakeford.

The current minister for the economy, the 50-year-old is expected to be declared the country’s fifth leader since the National Assembly for Wales, now called the Senedd, was established in 1999.

His appointment as Welsh Labour leader was announced on Saturday morning in a lecture hall at Cardiff University.

However, he will not take over as first minister until Wednesday – when a vote will be held in the Senedd.

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Addressing members of the Labour Party, the new leader said: “The first thing to do is to pay tribute to Mark.

“What is often said about Mark is he is a details man.

“But he was the right leader at the right time during the pandemic and it is true that we will be forever in his debt to his forensic approach to public policy.

“Not a lot is said about a heart that went into it to the deep and unwavering duty to defend Wales, as a community, as a people, as a family of families.”

Around 100,000 people voted in the contest, made up of Labour members or part of an affiliated organisation, such as a trade union.

Mr Gething had the support of the majority of unions, while his opponent Mr Miles had the backing of more Labour members in the Senedd.

Unlike previous Labour leadership elections, all the votes are equally weighted.

Selection in the past has used an “electoral college” system, giving greater weight to MPs and Members of the Senedd.

Mr Drakeford is not expected to stand down immediately, with his final first minister’s questions on March 19.

A vote will also need to take place in the Senedd at which opposition groups can put forward their own candidates.

The Herald: Vaughan Gething

With Labour the largest party, it is unlikely that any other group would take the role.

Mr Gething has been stalked by controversy through his campaign.

Atlantic Recycling, which is part of Dauson Environmental Group and controlled by David Neal, gave Mr Gething £100,000 on December 18 2023 and £100,000 on January 11 2024.

The company was found guilty of environmental offences in January and was previously fined £300,000 following the death of one of its workers after it pleaded guilty to breaching health and safety at work rules.

Earlier this week the BBC revealed that Mr Gething had lobbied regulators in favour of the company, asking Natural Resources Wales to ease restrictions on Atlantic Recycling in 2016.

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Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth MS said: “I congratulate Vaughan Gething on winning the Welsh Labour leadership election.

“If elected First Minister on Wednesday as expected, his party’s own record means he inherits significant challenges.

“He has sat around the Cabinet table and held key portfolios while Wales’s economy has stagnated, NHS waiting lists have grown, and child poverty remains a national scandal. Nothing said during the leadership campaign suggests that we will now see a gear-change in addressing these huge challenges.

“But he also brings his own personal issues. It is a matter of deep concern that we now have an incoming First Minister who before even taking up the highest public office is facing serious allegations and questions about his judgment.

“At the very least, Vaughan Gething should surely return the £200,000 campaign donation which has rightly drawn so much criticism from within his own party and beyond.

“This is not as good as it gets for Wales. The people of Wales deserve a party that has a real vision for the future – one that’s based on fairness and ambition, and that is what a vote for Plaid Cymru can offer.”

UK Labour leader Keir Starmer posted on social media: "Huge congratulations to Vaughan Gething on his election as Leader of the Welsh Labour Party.

“His appointment as First Minister of Wales, the first Black leader in the UK, will be an historic moment that speaks to the progress and values of modern-day Wales.

“With his many years of experience in the Senedd, I know he will lead a hopeful, ambitious Welsh Labour government, in the face of a tired and failed Tory government in Westminster.

“On behalf of the entire UK Labour Party, we look forward to campaigning with Vaughan in this new chapter for Wales, to deliver Labour governments across Britain.”