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by Louise Wilson
30 March 2023
Humza Yousaf unveils new Cabinet

Humza Yousaf and his new Cabinet | Credit: Alamy

Humza Yousaf unveils new Cabinet

First Minister Humza Yousaf has made Shona Robison his Finance Secretary as he confirmed his first Cabinet.

Unveiling his top team, Yousaf said it “reflects the priorities” of his government.

Keith Brown, depute leader of the SNP and now former justice secretary, is no longer in the Cabinet – nor is Kate Forbes, who reportedly rejected an offer to take on rural affairs.

Four members have been elevated from ministerial posts into Cabinet.

Michael Matheson is the new Health Secretary, taking over from Yousaf himself.

Jenny Gilruth has been promoted from transport minister to Education Secretary.

And Neil Gray, who managed Yousaf’s leadership campaign, takes on a new portfolio for the wellbeing economy, fair work and energy. Previously economy has sat within the finance portfolio.

Yousaf also announced 18 junior ministers, including a new Minister for Independence, Jamie Hepburn. Elena Whitham becomes minister for drugs and alcohol policy. 

The First Minister said: “The Cabinet team I have unveiled reflects the priorities that we will pursue as a government – including tackling child poverty, improving public services and building a fairer, greener economy.

“Ahead of my appointment as First Minister, I have committed myself to a radical, ambitious and progressive policy agenda for Scotland – and I know that this team is the right one to deliver it.”

He also praised former ministers for their work.

The new team is made up of four men (including Yousaf) and six women, making it the first ever Cabinet to be majority female.

The full Cabinet is as follows:

  • Humza Yousaf, First Minister
  • Shona Robison, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance
  • Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for NHS Recovery, Health and Social Care
  • Jenny Gilruth, Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills
  • Màiri McAllan, Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero and Just Transition
  • Neil Gray, Cabinet Secretary for Wellbeing Economy, Fair Work and Energy
  • Mairi Gougeon, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands
  • Angus Robertson, Cabinet Secretary for Constitution, External Affairs and Culture
  • Shirley-Anne Somerville, Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice
  • Angela Constance, Cabinet Secretary for Justice and Home Affairs

Responding to the reshuffle, Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy said: “Instead of offering an olive branch to the huge chunk of the party that didn’t back him, he would rather pander to the extremist Scottish Greens by giving a ‘wellbeing economy’ minister cabinet status. 

“We all fear for the wellbeing of the economy with the Greens in government.”

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: "This dismal cabinet cements the SNP’s new status as a deeply divided party led by B-rate politicians. Loyalty is being rewarded over talent – but both are in short supply in the SNP.

“At the heart of this continuity government are some of the most incompetent politicians of the last decade, set to deliver more of the same failure."

Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said: "

"I wish nothing but the best for any ministers who are prepared to actually focus on the people's priorities. But all of these figures have been part of the ministerial team that has fixated on division at the price of spiralling NHS waiting lists, disruption in our schools and missed climate emergency targets.

“The downgrading of housing and local government doesn’t bode well for sectors already in crisis on the SNP’s watch."

The government has also announced there will be 18 junior ministers.

Greens Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater remain in post as per the Bute House Agreement, while six new MSPs join the government.

Former ministers Joe FitzPatrick and Graeme Dey also return to government.

The ministerial team is: 

  • Elena Whitham, Minister for Drugs and Alcohol Policy
  • Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Independence
  • George Adam, Minister for Cabinet and Parliamentary Business
  • Tom Arthur, Minister for Community Wealth and Public Finance
  • Joe FitzPatrick, Minister for Local Government Empowerment and Planning
  • Jenni Minto, Minister for Public Health and Women's Health
  • Maree Todd, Minister for Social Care, Mental Wellbeing and Sport
  • Natalie Don, Minister for Children, Young People and Keeping the Promise
  • Graeme Dey, Minister for Higher and Further Education; and Minister for Veterans
  • Kevin Stewart, Minister for Transport
  • Richard Lochhead, Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade
  • Gillian Martin, Minister for Energy
  • Lorna Slater, Minister for Green Skills, Circular Economy and Biodiversity
  • Patrick Harvie, Minister for Zero Carbon Buildings, Active Travel and Tenants’ Rights 
  • Christina McKelvie, Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development
  • Emma Roddick, Minister for Equalities, Migration and Refugees
  • Paul McLennan, Minister for Housing
  • Siobhian Brown, Minister for Victims and Community Safety

MSPs will vote on the appointment of new cabinet secretaries and ministers on Thursday.

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