MARK Drakeford has confirmed he will step down as the First Minister of Wales within the next two years.

The Labour politician said in an interview with WalesOnline that he did not expect to be in post beyond 2024.

He has previously suggested he would step down before the next Welsh parliament election, due in 2026.

The Welsh FM said: “I'm in my fifth year as First Minister and I always thought that around that period of time was when it will be right to hand on to somebody else.”

Pressed on whether he would step down “at least a year” before the next Senedd election, he said: “I think it will be a bit more than a year myself.

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“I had two years and I think you do need that sort of period to work your way into the job, make sure people know a bit about you, and then there's a lot of thinking that goes into any election manifesto preparation and all of that.”

He said he would not “rule out” stepping down in 2024, adding: “I certainly don't think I will be in the job beyond that.”

Wales has only ever had Labour first ministers since the opening of its devolved parliament in 1999.

The longest-serving was Rhodri Morgan, who held office from 2000 to 2009.

Elsewhere in the interview, Drakeford attacked the UK Government’s response to the cost-of-living crisis and accused the Tories of picking people’s pockets.

He said: “When it comes to the big picture of the economy and Keynesian economics will tell you when the economy is in a downturn governments should act in ways that bolster the money people have in their pocket so they can go out and spend and countercyclically get the economy moving again.

“Rather than at this moment when the economy is shrinking taking money out of people's pockets because that means, in Wales, less money that people have to spend on the high street, less money to go out and have an evening out, less money to go to the cinema.

“The more money you take out of people's pockets the more that downturn in the economy is likely to go on for longer.”