Rhodri Morgan resigns as Welsh Labour leader

First Minister of Wales confirms he will step down by the end of the year

Rhodri Morgan has confirmed that he is to stand down as the Welsh Labour leader, ending a decade as the First Minister of Wales.
Morgan, who turned 70 this week, said that he had "loved this job" but that "10 years was about right". He added that he wanted to leave before he was forced out by opponents.

Morgan said: "There's never a right time to go. You can wait until others push you.

"I have seen it happen to leaders - Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair and so forth - and I don't want it to happen to me."

He will stay on as leader until the Welsh assembly government's budget has been voted on in December.

The Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, said: "I think all of us who know Rhodri understand his devotion and passion for serving the people of Wales.

His achievement is historic. For a decade, he has led Wales with boundless energy and commitment - improving the public services, economy and prospects of people across Wales.

"It is in no small part because of Rhodri's leadership that devolution to Wales continues to be so successful."
Morgan replaced Alun Michael as first minister in 2000 and has led a coalition government with the nationalist Plaid Cymru since 2007.

He said that devolution had proved its sceptics wrong: "It hasn't been jobs for the boys. I think we have managed to do it in a way that the whole of Wales now feels comfortable with devolution, comfortable in its own shoes, comfortable to be Welsh, proud to be Welsh because of the way devolution has gone."

The Welsh Secretary, Peter Hain, hailed Morgan as the "father of devolution". He said: "Admired and respected for his courageous, intelligent and sometimes quirky leadership, he has the rare ability to be equally at home whether it be meeting world leaders or talking rugby over a pint in a pub."

"A passionate Welshman, but also a passionate Briton," he said.

"Rhodri will depart at the top of his game, leaving big shoes to fill as the father of Welsh devolution."

Welsh Labour will now begin work on a timetable for electing his successor. The likely candidates include Carwyn Jones, the leader of the house, Huw Lewis, the former deputy minister and Edwina Hart, the health minister.