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by Louise Wilson
09 May 2024
Kate Forbes becomes deputy first minister

Forbes is the youngest every deputy first minister | Alamy

Kate Forbes becomes deputy first minister

Kate Forbes has been made the new deputy first minister by John Swinney.

She also takes responsibility for the economy brief and Gaelic.

Shona Robison loses her role as deputy but retains her finance portfolio, while Mairi McAllan no longer has responsibility for economy but keeps net zero and energy.

Swinney, who was sworn in as first minister on Wednesday morning, said he hoped this cabinet signaled his ambition to work collaborative across parliament.

He said: “I have selected a Cabinet team that blends experience and energy, with a strong focus on the priorities my government will pursue – eradicating child poverty, driving economic growth, meeting climate obligations and investing in our vital public services.

“My overriding priority will be to work to eradicate child poverty in Scotland, an issue on which real progress has been made through measures such as the Scottish Child Payment. The government I lead will maximise every lever at our disposal to tackle the scourge of poverty in our country.”

The rest of the cabinet remains much the same as it did previously.

Ministerial appointments will be announced in due course.

Forbes was finance secretary under former first minister Nicola Sturgeon, but returned to the backbenches after Humza Yousaf took charge last year.

She was offered the rural economy role at the time, in a move that would have been a demotion, but she declined.

Upon re-entering government as the youngest ever deputy, she said: “This is a moment of extraordinary privilege for me. Having previously served in cabinet, I know the duty that all ministers have to reflect the government’s priorities and the missions that drive them.”

The complete Scottish cabinet is as follows:

  • Kate Forbes, Deputy First Minister and Economy Secretary (plus responsibility for Gaelic)
  • Shona Robison, Finance and Local Government Secretary
  • Jenny Gilruth, Education and Skills Secretary
  • Angela Constance, Justice and Home Affairs Secretary
  • Màiri McAllan, Net Zero and Energy Secretary
  • Fiona Hyslop, Transport Secretary
  • Neil Gray, Health and Social Care Secretary
  • Shirley-Anne Somerville, Social Justice Secretary
  • Angus Robertson, Constitution, External Affairs and Culture Secretary
  • Mairi Gougeon, Rural Affairs, Land Reform and Islands Secretary

The Scottish Greens are unhappy with the decision to promote Forbes to deputy.

Co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “There will be many people across our country who will be very concerned and who will want to know that this Scottish Government remains committed to a greener and more equal future for Scotland.

“When it comes to delivering fairer and more progressive taxation, a just transition from oil and gas and a watertight ban on so-called conversion therapy, it is vital that this government does not dilute the longstanding commitments that it has made.”

As a minority government, Swinney and Forbes will need to reach across the political aisle to ensure legislation is passed.

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