THE contenders to succeed Mark Drakeford as first minister have doubled down on 20mph and dashed hopes of an resurrected M4 relief road.

Economy minister Vaughan Gething and education minister Jeremy Miles fielded questions from journalist Bethan Rhys Roberts and a live TV audience last night, February 21, on a special edition of BBC Wales Live.

The first question of the night set the tone for a contest between two candidates with similar positions - and proposals in what they describe as a testing budget climate.

Dr Oba Babs-Osibodu, co-chair of the Welsh junior doctors’ committee, who just hours earlier had led strikes at the University Hospital of Wales, asked how the first minister hopefuls would resolve the pay dispute.

Mr Miles pointed to his work to resolve strikes as education minister and stressed the importance of open dialogue between government and unions.

Mr Gething said before either candidate becomes first minister, the UK Government’s spring budget would give an indication as to whether there may be more resources for the Welsh NHS.

Both ministers rejected the prospect of an M4 relief road. Mr Gething said: “The truth is, that ship has sailed. We don’t have the money to do it.”

Mr Miles said his opposition related to the environmental impact on the Gwent Levels and surrounding area.

Both men clarified they would not entertain the idea even if a future UK Labour government in Westminster provided the funds.

READ MORE: Jeremy Miles 'absolutely not' looking at M4 relief road despite transport aims

One audience member asked what considerations the ministers were making about the economic impacts of the 20mph default limit.

Mr Gething said he wanted to consider the impact of slower speeds on different workforces. Mr Miles said that, while economic prosperity is the central mission in his manifesto, the success of the policy also needed to be considered in terms of road safety.

Both ministers said they would not reverse the policy in full, but would work with local authorities to make specific changes.

Mr Gething, who also ran for the Welsh Labour leadership in 2018, was challenged after it emerged his campaign accepted a £200,000 donation from a company whose director was given a suspended sentence for dumping illegal waste at a Gwent Levels conservation site.

Mr Gething said the donations had been properly registered with the Senedd. Both men used the opportunity to note their pledges on the environment.

READ MORE: Vaughan Gething challenged on his M4 relief road position

The debate ended with the candidates identifying what they liked about the other. Mr Miles summarised the conciliatory tone by saying they were “good colleagues in a government with shared values”.

They both said they would offer the other a job in government if they became first minister.

The winner of the contest will be confirmed on March 16.