Brexit secretary to stand down as MSP at Holyrood election

Mike Russell MSP has announced he will stand down at the Scottish Parliament elections next year.

Scotland’s Brexit secretary Mike Russell has announced he will stand down as an MSP at the Scottish Parliament elections next year.

Mr Russell, MSP for Argyll and Bute, said he will be 72 by the end of the next parliament and thinks somebody younger would be better suited to fulfil the demands of the constituency.

He told his constituency association of his decision at their meeting in Tarbert, Argyll, on Sunday.

However Mr Russell, cabinet secretary for the Constitution, Europe and External Affairs, also said he was committed to working over the next year to develop and promote Scotland’s case for independence and EU membership while supporting constituents who need his help.

He said: “I have been the MSP for Argyll and Bute since 2011 and it has been an enormous privilege as well as a greatly enjoyable task.

“However I will be 67 this summer and 72 at the end of the next parliament. Argyll and Bute is a massive area to cover – with 23 inhabited islands and a large swathe of the mainland – and I am getting to the stage of thinking that someone younger would be better able to fulfil all the demands of the constituency. It is, I think, much better I say that now than wait for someone else to do so.

“I am proud of the work the SNP in Government has done in Argyll and Bute, securing much new investment, supporting individuals and communities.

“I am also proud of the work that we as a party have done in Government, including the tasks that I have undertaken in my ministerial roles in education, culture, the environment and in improving electoral law.

“Of course, my biggest challenges have been those I have faced since August 2016 when I was tasked by the First Minister with attempting to secure Scotland’s place in Europe and to make Scotland’s voice heard in Whitehall.”

Mr Russell said he has found it particularly distressing to have to see Scotland “dragged out of Europe against our will”, adding he is sure that is something that can be reversed “before too long.”

He said: “Over the next year I will continue to work on that aim, to develop a greater domestic and international understanding of the case for independence.”

He said that he still intends to be “active in the political sphere” after he steps down next May.

Before becoming MSP for Argyll and Bute, Mr Russell was a regional member for the South of Scotland from 1999-2003 and 2007-2011.

During his time in government he served as environment minister and then minister for culture, external affairs and the constitution, before moving to the role of education secretary which he held until 2014.

He was appointed minister for UK negotiations on Scotland’s place in Europe in 2016.

In June 2018 he became cabinet secretary for Government Business and International Relations and his portfolio was expanded in February 2020 when he became Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, Europe and External Affairs.

Mr Russell, who is married with one son, has lived in rural Argyll since 1992.

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