Yousaf names majority female Scottish cabinet after Forbes rejects role | Scottish politics
Scotland’s new First Minister Humza Yousaf has revealed a majority female cabinet, with half of its members under the age of 40, as his attempts to unite the party fizzled after a divisive leadership race .
Kate Forbes, whom Yousaf narrowly beat to take over as SNP leader on Monday, confirmed on Tuesday night that she would leave the Scottish government rather than accept a demotion from the cabinet.
Forbes allies described the offer of the Rural and Islands Affairs portfolio – a significant step from his previous position as finance secretary – as “an insult”, while one of his early supporters, the minister of business, Ivan McKee, also resigned from the government. Wednesday morning after being offered what he considered a demotion.
Yousaf unveiled the new cabinet team after he was formally sworn in as First Minister at Edinburgh Court of Session on Wednesday morning, and said it reflected “the priorities we will pursue as government – including tackling child poverty, improving public services and building a fairer and greener economy”.
He split Forbes’ previous role, handing the finance file to his newly appointed deputy, Shona Robison, a key Sturgeon ally who the former prime minister put in charge of his recognition reform bill. gender, while its campaign manager, Neil Gray, joins the cabinet for the first time as economics secretary for welfare, fair labor and energy.
Robison, who is based in Dundee, resigned as health secretary in 2018 after months of intense criticism over his handling of NHS funding crises. Yousaf also lives in Dundee with his family, although he is the MSP for the Glasgow Pollok constituency.
Yousaf has also promoted a number of younger colleagues, including Màiri McAllan, who becomes net zero and just transition secretary, and former teacher Jenny Gilruth, who takes charge of the education file.
He sacked deputy party leader Keith Brown from his role as judge days after Brown presented a detailed manifesto for internal party change in a Daily Record article.
Yousaf also promoted former transport minister Michael Matheson to the health portfolio he previously held, one of the toughest roles in the cabinet as the country faces record waiting lists for cancer and surgery and record A&E delays.
However, the deep divisions that emerged in the SNP leadership race appeared to be cementing despite Yousaf’s insistence during the campaign that he depart from Nicola Sturgeon’s ‘inner circle’ style of leadership, promising a “big tent” approach.
One of Forbes’ main supporters, former SNP minister Alex Neil, described Yousaf’s treatment of him as “an insult and not a real attempt at unification” after he narrowly beat Forbes to the leadership of 52% to 48% on second preferences.
Robison insisted Wednesday morning that Forbes made the decision to step down for personal reasons. She told the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland: ‘The very first meeting the Prime Minister had was with Kate, and he made it clear he wanted Kate in government.
“They spoke to each other several times over the past two days and I understand that the discussion was very cordial and was very centered on Kate’s thoughts. She had thought about how difficult the campaign had been for family life and her desire for a better life-work balance and that she had decided that it was better to spend time away from the spotlight, spend time with [her] family.”
Forbes is still technically on maternity leave until the end of the Easter holidays and gave birth to her first baby last August.
Robison denied that what was interpreted as a demotion was a signal to the 48% of SNP members who voted for Forbes that he was ignoring their views.
After rejecting the role, Forbes tweeted that the new prime minister had his ‘full backing’, saying: ‘I have full confidence that he will appoint a talented cabinet and ministerial team capable of meeting the challenges facing the country. confronted with”.