Wales, Vaughan Gething

Vaughan Gething Becomes Europe’s First Black Head Of Government

Vaughan Gething, a Zambian-born lawyer, is now the First Minister of Wales.

Vaughan Gething, a Zambian-born lawyer, became the first Black European head of government and the first Black head of government in the United Kingdom after being elected by the Welsh Parliament and approved by King Charles III on March 20.

Gething acknowledged this history, issuing a statement on March 21 shortly after taking office, “Today we turn a page in the book of our nation’s history—a history we write together,” Gething said. “Not just because I have the honor of becoming the first Black leader in any European country, but because a generational dial has jumped too.”

The 50-year-old is the first leader of Wales to be born after the U.K. delegated some powers to its former subjects in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, which began in 1990 after public votes were held.

The votes led to the eventual allowance of the countries to be responsible for local government, while England remains responsible for national matters such as defense, foreign relations, and others.

Gething is the latest leader of the U.K. to be non-white, following England and Scotland’s elections of Rishi Sunak, a prime minister of Indian descent, and Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf, who is of Pakistani descent. Northern Ireland, meanwhile, is led by two women. This means there are no white men at the top of the political pyramid in any of the U.K.’s countries.

Gething’s selection, as he told legislators on March 20, is both “a matter of pride” and a “daunting responsibility” but he also promised that Wales would be a place for its citizens to “celebrate our differences and take pride in all of those things that draw us together.”

In addition to Gething, as The Guardian reported, other leaders such as Keir Starmer, the leader of U.K.’s Labor Party and former Welsh first minister Carwyn Jones recognized the importance of Gething’s position

Starmer told the outlet, “His appointment as first minister of Wales, the first Black leader in the U.K., will be a historic moment that speaks to the progress and values of modern-day Wales.” 

Jones said that the achievement should be a source of national pride, telling The Guardian, “It’s something we can be very proud of in Wales.”

The outgoing leader of Wales, Mark Drakeford, meanwhile, promised to work with Gething on delivering quality leadership to the country, “He [Gething] will provide the next generation of leadership for the party and I look forward to campaigning with him to deliver the U.K. Labour government Wales so desperately needs.”

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