It has been an immense honour to serve in Labour’s Shadow Cabinet during the past three years, and to be the voice for Wales in Westminster. It is no exaggeration to say I have enjoyed every minute of it. Since first being elected as Member of Parliament for Neath in 2015, the country has seen the most unpredictable and turbulent times, possibly in history, and we have been through two further General Elections, three Prime Ministers and a referendum which will ultimately change the world forever. We’ve also campaigned in three Parliamentary by-elections and the European Elections, plus Wales Questions, debates and Government statements, to name but a few. However, throughout it all it has always been a privilege to represent my constituency and the people of Wales.
I was humbled to be asked to act as Lord Falconer’s Parliamentary Private Secretary whilst he was the Shadow Justice Secretary, and I was extremely proud to take on the role of Shadow Justice Minister. A year later I was appointed as Shadow Secretary of State for Wales, a source of pride and honour only matched by the hundred times I played for my country as a Squash international.
Since taking up the role I have worked tirelessly to provide a voice for Wales in Westminster; to unite people and bring together our devolved Government with Parliamentarians; to support people including fellow MPs and local members; to campaign all across Wales; and last but not least, to make sure our great country is never forgotten. I hope that I have achieved these things, and more. It has been a privilege to work with the Welsh Government, including two First Ministers in Carwyn Jones and Mark Drakeford. I have served on the Welsh Executive Committee and Party Development Board, and I want to thank Welsh Labour General Secretary Louise Magee and her wonderful staff for all their support.
I have spent most of my life as a councillor and I know how important the role of councillor is in looking after our communities. When I was appointed Shadow Welsh Secretary I immediately telephoned my friend Debbie Wilcox, who was then Leader of the WLGA, as well as being Leader of Newport Council, and I telephoned all the Labour Leaders of Councils across Wales. I have addressed the Labour Group of the WLGA many times and attended full WLGA Council meetings. I have always felt that we should work together. We are one Welsh Labour family.
On Saturday a new leader and deputy leader of the Labour Party were elected, and I am absolutely delighted that this was Keir and Angela, colleagues who I have had the pleasure of working with during the past three years and whom I was very pleased to nominate and support.
In Keir we have a man of integrity and authority, someone who will unite our party and lead us into Government. Whilst I am obviously sad not to be a part of his Shadow cabinet, I understand his decision and will back him completely. I will continue to stand up for the people of Neath, my constituents who I am fiercely proud to represent and who I want to thank for all their continued support. And I offer my sincere congratulations to my dear friend and colleague Nia Griffith, who has taken up the reins as Shadow Secretary of State for Wales.
Working together we will deliver the UK Labour Government this country so desperately needs.