First Minister John Swinney reveals Cabinet with Kate Forbes as deputy

Scotland's seventh First Minister appointed MSPs to his front bench having been officially sworn in on Wednesday.

Latest updates
  • Kate Forbes is appointed deputy first minister and economy secretary
  • Shona Robison resigns as deputy first minister but remains as finance secretary
  • All other current cabinet ministers have remained in their posts
  • It comes after John Swinney was officially sworn in as Scotland’s seventh First Minister

First Minister John Swinney has revealed his Scottish Government Cabinet.

Scotland’s seventh First Minister appointed MSPs to his front bench having been officially sworn in on Wednesday.

Swinney has appointed Kate Forbes as the youngest-ever deputy first minister – replacing Shona Robison who stepped down at his request.

Forbes will also take on the economy portfolio and responsibility of Gaelic.

The First Minister thanked Robison for stepping aside and said she would take on a “vital and senior role” as she remains finance and local government secretary.

“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,” the First Minister said.

First Minister John Swinney has revealed his Scottish Government Cabinet.Scottish Government
Mairi McAllan, Fiona Hyslop and Neil Gray arrive at Bute House as John Swinney appoints his Cabinet.

All other current cabinet ministers have remained in their posts.

They are: energy secretary Mairi McAllan, transport secretary Fiona Hyslop, health secretary Neil Gray, education secretary Jenny Gilruth, justice secretary Angela Constance, social justice secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville, consitution secretary Angus Robertson and rural affairs secretary Mairi Gougeon.

Forbes said it was a “moment of extraordinary privilege”.

Scotland's deputy first minister Shona Robinson arrives at Bute House before it is announced she is stepping down.ANDY BUCHANAN / Contributor via Getty Images

Swinney had met with Forbes before declaring he was running for the SNP leadership. He had promised her a “significant role” in his team.

After appointing her, Swinney described Forbes as an “immensely talented politician”.

Former finance secretary Forbes said she was “deeply honoured to accept John’s invitation” to be his deputy.

Following the announcement, Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie posted a picture of a “no right turn” sign on social media – an apparent warning for the new Government not to shift its policies to the right.

Fellow Green co-leader Loran Slater told STV News: “There clearly are differences in approaches and in policies. That is the case.

“But it isn’t really about personalities. It’s about policy and the direction of travel. And that is for the First Minister to set out. Every member of Cabinet will be bound by collective responsibility.

“So it is up to the First Minister to set out what that vision is going to be. The Scottish Greens are willing to work with the Government on a policy by policy basis. In terms of votes for tomorrow, the Scottish Green Group have not yet met to have our discussion.”

Current education secretary Jenny Gilruth, current justice secretary Angela Constance and current social justice secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville entered Bute HouseGetty Images

Scottish Labour’s deputy leader Dame Jackie Baillie said many of those in Swinney’s new Cabinet had “been there for 17 years”.

“John Swinney himself has been at the heart of the SNP government, and responsible for many of their policy initiatives,” she told STV News.

“So it’s not a fresh start. It is a continuation of what we’ve seen before.

“But certainly I will work with anybody, in any government. My door has always been open.

“I don’t recall the SNP trying to break it down to come and have conversations with us.”

It comes after a ceremony at the Court of Session in Edinburgh saw Swinney, the Perthshire North MSP, making his statutory declarations, after which he was granted his official title of First Minister and Keeper of the Scottish Seal.

Swinney said it was a “really overwhelming moment” to take the oath of office in front of the Lord President of the Court of Session and to formally assume the role of First Minister.

consitution secretary Angus Robertson and rural affairs secretary Mairi Gougeon arrive at Bute House.Getty Images

“It is the privilege of my life and I look forward to dedicating my future to serving the people of Scotland as I have done so for so many years and to do that as First Minister,” he said.

“It’s an extraordinary opportunity to change lives for the better and I intend to use every moment available to me to do so.”

He said recent events had been “a very abrupt change” of his family’s circumstances.

“We didn’t think this would be happening about ten days ago, but it’s happening now and we’re making plans to adjust and adapt to that.

“It’s been incredibly precious to me to have my family at my side as I make this most important journey of my life.”

Swinney left the Court of Session to head to the First Minister’s official residence Bute House where he appointed his Cabinet.

Swinney is the seventh person to be first minister since the Scottish Parliament was established 25 years ago, following an unopposed selection process a week after predecessor Humza Yousaf resigned.

Swinney told the other parties at Holyrood: “If we want to fund our schools and hospitals, if we want to give our businesses a competitive edge, if we want to take climate action, if we want to eradicate child poverty, if we want to change people’s lives for the better, we have got to work together to do so.”

But he said he would “give all of my energy and my willingness” to achieve this, committing to be “the first minister for everyone in Scotland”.

Humza Yousaf and John Swinney and Nicola Sturgeon react after he delivered his farewell speech as First Minister at the Scottish Parliament.Getty Images

He thanked his wife Elizabeth, who has multiple sclerosis, making clear his “profound eternal gratitude” to her for “the sacrifices she is prepared to make” so he could take on the job.

Later on Tuesday, the couple posed for photographs on the steps of Bute House in Edinburgh, the official residence of the first minister.

What are the challenges ahead for the new First Minister?

What are the challenges ahead for the new First Minister?

Swinney becomes SNP leader and First Minister at a difficult time for his party and Government.

Police Scotland’s investigation into SNP’s funding and finances is ongoing, with the force charging former chief executive Peter Murrell – Sturgeon’s husband – with embezzlement of party funds last month.

Sturgeon and former treasurer Colin Beattie were arrested last year but released without charge, pending further investigations.

He also enters Bute House – the official residence of Scotland’s devolved leader – at a time when polling suggests the SNP could lose seats at the next election to Scottish Labour.

Swinney’s party has been declining in both Westminster and Holyrood polls. But he has promised to see his leadership through the next Scottish and UK ballots.

He also faces the challenge of uniting a party that has become increasingly divided on independence strategy as well as some economic and social policies.

Reaction: STV News political editor Colin Mackay asks what challenges the new First Minister will face
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