SNP depute leader Keith Brown to leave Scottish Government as reshuffle begins
SNP depute leader Keith Brown - Image credit: PA Images
New SNP depute leader Keith Brown is to stand down from the Scottish Government, as part of a reshuffle that will be announced over the next two days.
Brown will give up his role as economy secretary to “dedicate his time and energy” to the party leadership role, the SNP said.
In addition to the depute leadership role, Brown will also become the party’s standing campaign director, with responsibility for policy development, preparation for future elections, including a possible snap UK general election, and building the case for independence.
He has already committed to a series of ‘national assemblies’ to discuss the Sustainable Growth Commission over the summer.
Brown will also take on some of the functions currently undertaken by the party leader, including chairing meetings of the party’s political cabinet.
He will be supported by a team of MPs and MSPs, who will be appointed in the coming days, and report directly to Nicola Sturgeon as party leader.
The SNP also announced that Finance Secretary Derek Mackay is to stand down from his party role as the SNP’s business convener – a position he has held for seven years – after the party’s autumn conference.
A new business convener – who is responsible for directing party policy and chairs the SNP’s National Executive Committee and national conference – will be announced in the autumn.
Commenting on the new role for Keith Brown, SNP leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “Keith has done an excellent job as a government minister over many years and has many achievements that he can be very proud of, including overseeing the construction of the magnificent new Queensferry Crossing.
“However, he and I have decided that the time is right to ensure that the energies of the SNP leader and depute leader team are focused not just on delivering a strong SNP government, but also a party operation that is from top to bottom, fit and ready for the opportunities that lie ahead.
“Keith’s decision to be a dedicated depute leader will enable him to steer the party’s policy development, engage and motivate our expanded membership, get us ready for future elections, and develop the case for independence.”
Brown added: “Over the last few weeks, the public outcry over the Tory power grab has led to a further increase in our party membership and a refreshed debate about independence – and so it has become clear to me that we must capitalise on this moment.
“The First Minister and I have agreed that, as part of the leadership team, I should dedicate my time and energy to the role of depute leader – effectively becoming the standing campaign director of the party – and lead work to build our policy platform, ensure we are ready for an early general election should it happen, build and strengthen the case for independence and start to lay the foundations for the 2021 Holyrood election.
“In the coming days we will be appointing a team of MPs and MSPs to support this work and put the party on a campaign footing.
“While my constituency will always come first, serving as a government minister has been a huge honour, and I am particularly proud to have helped deliver the iconic Queensferry Crossing, the hugely successful Borders Railway and to have served as veterans minister, representing our veterans community inside government.
"This is a hugely exciting time for the SNP and I am relishing the opportunity to get the SNP ready for the campaigns and opportunities that lie ahead.”