FORMER Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon and her successor Humza Yousaf have paid tribute to the “dedicated" and "principled" Mark Drakeford after the Welsh leader announced plans to step down.

Drakeford said on Wednesday that the “time has now come” for him to resign as Welsh Labour leader and First Minister of the nation.

A leadership election will be concluded before Easter and he will stay in post as First Minister of Wales until then, Drakeford told journalists attending a statement at the Senedd.

After the news broke, tributes to his work began to pour in from both Drakeford’s Labour colleagues and opposition politicians.

SNP leader Yousaf gave his thanks to Drakeford as a "dedicated and principled public servant".

He went on: "A Labour politician willing to call out the damage of Brexit and stand up to Westminster austerity. An ally in defending devolution from repeated Westminster attacks. I wish him all the best for the future."

Sturgeon – who resigned as Scottish first minister earlier in 2023 – said the Welsh leader had been “without doubt one of the most decent, dedicated, principled, and impressive politicians I had the privilege of working with in my time as FM”.

“He will be the hardest of acts to follow,” she added.

In a more muted statement, David TC Davies, the Tory MP serving as the UK Government’s Welsh Secretary, wrote: “As First Minister @MarkDrakeford served Wales through some challenging times, including the Covid-19 pandemic, I wish him all the best in his retirement and look forward to working together with his successor.”

And Prime Minister Rishi Sunak added: “I wish @MarkDrakeford all the best as he moves on from his many years of public service.

“We will continue to work closely with the Welsh Government to build on our joint work to spread opportunity for people across Wales.”

Keir Starmer called Drakeford a "titan" of politics while paying tribute at Prime Minister's Questions, and the outgoing leader's Welsh Labour colleagues also made sincere statements.

Dr Hefin David MS wrote: “I will always be grateful to @MarkDrakeford for his leadership during the pandemic, the greatest crisis of my lifetime.

“He endeavoured throughout to do the right thing for the people of Wales. Mark listened to my community and did all he could to keep us safe.

“Diolch @PrifWeinidog [thank you, first minister].”

The National: Mark Drakeford

Welsh Labour MP Gerald Jones wrote: “@MarkDrakeford has been a dedicated public servant who has done much to protect Wales from the full impact of a brutal Tory government.

“I wish him the very best for the future and for what I hope is a healthy and happy retirement.”

Drakeford forged a co-operation agreement with the pro-independence Plaid Cymru in late 2021.

The two parties agreed to work together on 46 policy areas in a deal due to run until December 2024.

In a statement paying tribute to Drakeford, Plaid Cymru leader Rhun ap Iorwerth said: “As he announces his departure I recognise and pay tribute to the First Minister's dedication to public life and in particular the tone of his leadership through the pandemic.

READ MORE: Why Plaid Cymru is not benefitting from Welsh independence support

“We have been able to build a constructive relationship in delivering transformative policies through the co-operation agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru. Be it with Mark Drakeford or his successor, our priority has been and will be to deliver for Wales. That will continue to be our guiding principle.”

However, Plaid Cymru’s boss also took aim at Drakeford’s record, going on: “When he took office, the First Minister spoke of the opportunities that came with the position of leading the Welsh government. Regrettably, those opportunities have been squandered, resulting in longer waiting lists, falling educational standards and a stagnant economy.

“The First Minister told me in the Senedd yesterday that the question of his successor was ‘nothing to do’ with me. But who can become First Minister through an internal Labour party election matters to all of us. However, whoever is in charge of Labour in Wales, there's no taking away from the fact that they take their orders from Keir Starmer, who has a blind spot to Wales and offers nothing to address our needs and aspirations.”