John Swinney faces inaugural First Minister's Questions

The First Minister will take questions from MSPs for the first time since being elected as leader by Holyrood.

Key Points
  • John Swinney faces his first FMQs since becoming Scotland’s devolved leader
  • First Minister took questions from MSPs from 12pm
  • He succeeded Humza Yousaf as FM on Tuesday after a Holyrood vote
  • Swinney announced his Cabinet on Wednesday where he made Kate Forbes his deputy
  • SNP leader scrapped the role of minister for independence

John Swinney faces his inaugural First Minister’s Questions after succeeding Humza Yousaf as Scotland’s devolved leader.

The Perthshire North MSP became the leader of the SNP on Monday before being voted in by MSPs as First Minister on Tuesday and being formally sworn in on Wednesday.

He also announced his Cabinet, making Kate Forbes his deputy as well as economy and Gaelic secretary, sacking Shona Robison in the process.

Robison remains finance secretary.

John Swinney made Kate Forbes his deputy first minister

His top team remains mostly unchanged though.

However, he did remove four junior ministerial posts, including the role of minister for independence that Yousaf created.

Jamie Hepburn was in the job for just over a year and was responsible for the Scottish Government’s independence papers.

Opposition parties had been calling for the job to be scrapped.

Scottish Liberal Democrat MSP Willie Rennie welcomed the news, saying: “The Scottish Government needs to have a laser focus on the issues that really matter, like tackling long waits for healthcare and violence in our schools.”

Swinney has said he would bring the SNP to the “moderate, centre-left” of Scottish politics, focusing on the economy, the cost of living and jobs.

He said tackling child poverty would be one of his greatest ambitions and vowed to work crossparty to achieve that aim.

Thursday won’t be the first time he has answered FMQs, having stood in for Nicola Sturgeon as her deputy, but it will be his first time as leader.

Swinney has criticised the “toxic” nature of Scottish politics and said he would seek to work with opposition parties.

He said Parliament is “intensely polarised”, adding: “I accept my part in creating that environment, whether that is by shouting put-downs from the front bench or heckling from a sedentary position.

“I do promise Presiding Officer, that that will all stop. I have changed.”

Amid laughter in the chamber, he added: “Perhaps time will tell on that one.”

He now leads a minority government after Yousaf ended the Bute House Agreement with the Scottish Greens.

It means he will need to rely on opposition parties to pass motions and bills through Parliament, including the Budget.

Swinney’s Cabinet includes eight women – thought to be the most ever – and two other men.

Neil Gray, who was appointed health secretary earlier this year, stays in the post, while Angus Robertson remains constitution, external affairs and culture secretary.

Former teacher Jenny Gilruth remains education secretary, Angela Constance retains her position as justice secretary, and Fiona Hyslop continues as Transport Secretary.

Mairi McAllan remains in the Cabinet but with a slightly slimmed down brief – she had been the net zero, wellbeing economy and energy secretary, but now has responsibility for net zero and energy.

Shirley-Anne Sommerville and Mairi Gougeon also continue in their previous roles – as social justice secretary, and Rural Affairs, land reform and islands secretary respectively.

In his junior ministerial team, Ivan McKee has returned to Government as minister for public finance, while minister for equalities, migration and refugees Emma Roddick and minister for local government empowerment and planning Joe Fitzpatrick have stepped down from their previous roles.

George Adam has also lost his job as minister for parliamentary business, which has been taken over by former independence minister Jamie Hepburn.

Consisting of 11 Cabinet secretaries, including the First Minister, the Scottish Cabinet is supported by 14 ministers, reducing the size of the Scottish Government by four since the start of the year.

First Minister John Swinney has revealed his Scottish Government Cabinet.Scottish Government

Speaking after announcing his top team, Swinney 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.”

Rival parties have hit out at the “uninspiring” Cabinet from Swinney, with Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy saying: “His is simply Humza Yousaf’s cabinet with a different figurehead.”

The Tory MSP added: “The return of Kate Forbes is a desperate attempt by both John Swinney and his new deputy to gloss over the huge splits in the SNP and fixate on independence.

“This uninspiring cabinet is further evidence that John Swinney as First Minister will just mean more of the same.”

Meanwhile, Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: “This is a continuity cabinet, that cannot be trusted to fix the chaos and instability they have created.”

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code