First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has appointed public finance minister Kate Forbes as Finance Secretary in a reshuffle of her cabinet.

Ms Forbes will take on the role left by Derek Mackay following revelations about some 270 messages sent to a 16-year-old boy over social media, while retaining her past responsibility for digital economy.

She becomes the first woman to hold the role of Finance Secretary after being widely praised for her presentation of the draft budget following the resignation of Mr Mackay the night before.

Ms Forbes has led the Scottish Government’s negotiations with other parties as well as giving evidence to the Finance Committee at Holyrood on the spending pledges.

The draft budget is due to go before Holyrood for its final vote on March 5, following an accelerated period of scrutiny by MSPs due to a delay in the process.

External Affairs Secretary Fiona Hyslop will move to take on the role of Economy Secretary, separating the portfolio held by Mr Mackay before his departure.

Ms Hyslop’s former role will be absorbed by Brexit Secretary Mike Russell.

The First Minister said: “These appointments bring new talent into Government and deliver a real focus, not only on driving forward our economy, but also on addressing the challenges of Brexit, increasing our population and ending Scotland’s contribution to the climate crisis.

“I am pleased to make these appointments and – in particular – to be able to put Scotland’s finances and Scotland’s economy into the hands of two incredibly talented colleagues.”

She added: “Fiona Hyslop has been an outstanding Cabinet Secretary, delivering a successful expansion of Scotland’s overseas presence and recognition, supporting our booming tourism industry and demonstrating the huge importance of culture – not just to our economy but more importantly to who we are and how we see ourselves.

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“I know she will bring that drive, passion and sharp focus to Scotland’s economy.

“Working alongside Kate Forbes as the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, she will continue to drive forward our economy, support our key industries and maintain Scotland’s long tradition as an outward-looking, dynamic and enterprising nation.”

Ben Macpherson will leave his post as Europe minister to take over Ms Forbes’ role in public finance, with Cabinet newcomer Jenny Gilruth assuming the post.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing will also take on responsibility for tourism in his remit.

The First Minister said: “Ben Macpherson will continue to make the case for Scotland to have a distinct migration system in order to meet our economic, social and financial needs – and as Public Finance Minister will also take the lead on identifying ways to fund climate action and he will work across government to build a well-being economy.

“Jenny Gilruth will join Government for the first time – having proven herself as a talented and hard-working MSP – and takes on the role of Minister for Europe and International Development.

“She will have the important task of promoting Scotland, building new links in a post-Brexit environment and delivering on our global responsibilities – and I know she is more than up to that challenge.”

The First Minister will put Ms Forbes and Ms Gilruth’s appointments before the Scottish Parliament on Tuesday.



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