Scottish Cabinet Reshuffle RECAP: Shirley-Anne Somerville replaces John Swinney at education | Nicola Sturgeon keeps Kate Forbes at finance | Humza Yousaf new Health Secretary | Angus Robertson and Keith Brown back in cabinet | Mairi Gougeon joins top team

After being re-elected as Scotland's First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon is set to appoint cabinet ministers throughout today (May 19).

Wednesday, 19th May 2021, 9:50 am
Updated Wednesday, 19th May 2021, 3:23 pm
The First Minister is set to appoint cabinet ministers throughout today.

The reshuffle is taking place after the SNP won a record fourth term in government at Holyrood, although Ms Sturgeon’s party just fell short of winning an overall majority at Holyrood.

The election in May also saw a number of senior politicians leave the Scottish Parliament, with Constitution Secretary Mike Russell, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham and Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell all choosing to step away from politics, while energy minister Paul Wheelhouse failed to be re-elected.

Now, Ms Sturgeon will announce her cabinet for the next Scottish parliamentary term – and you can follow all the updates right here.

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Scottish Cabinet reshuffle LIVE: First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announces cabinet for next Scottish parliamentary term

Last updated: Wednesday, 19 May, 2021, 15:26

  • Nicola Sturgeon has announced her new Cabinet line-up
  • John Swinney to take charge of Scotland’s Covid recovery
  • Hyslop and Ewing to leave Scottish cabinet
  • Humza Yousaf becomes Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care
  • Kate Forbes retains the finance brief

In full: New Scottish Government cabinet

  • Nicola Sturgeon - First Minister
  • John Swinney - Deputy First Minister and Covid recovery
  • Kate Forbes - Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Economy
  • Humza Yousaf - Cabinet Secretary for Health and Social Care
  • Shirley-Anne Somerville - Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills
  • Michael Matheson - Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport
  • Keith Brown - Cabinet Secretary for Justice
  • Shona Robison - Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Housing and Local Government
  • Angus Robertson - Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture
  • Mairi Gougeon - Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands

Nicola Sturgeon promises ‘serious government’ from reshuffled Scottish Cabinet

Nicola Sturgeon has promised her new Cabinet will provide Scotland with “serious government” as the country looks to recover from coronavirus and tackle the key issue of climate change.

The First Minister unveiled her new slimmed-down Cabinet – with 10 members instead of the previous 12 – on the steps of her official residence, Bute House in Edinburgh.

With new MSP Angus Robertson – a former SNP Westminster leader – coming straight into the Cabinet as Constitution Secretary, Ms Sturgeon also made clear she believes she has an “unquestionable” mandate for a second independence referendum.

The reshuffle began with the announcement that Deputy First Minister John Swinney was being moved from education – where his performance has come under fire – to the new role of Covid Recovery Secretary.

Shirley-Anne Somerville, who had previously held the social security brief, has now been made Education Secretary – although her appointment had to be made via a Zoom call after it emerged a member of her family is self-isolating.

Humza Yousaf moves from justice to become the Health and Social Care Secretary – which will see him play a key role in tackling coronavirus and take on responsibility for work to set up a new National Care Service.

With climate change taking centre stage as Glasgow prepares to host the global Cop26 summit, Ms Sturgeon has appointed Michael Matheson into the new post of Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport.

Elsewhere, Mairi Gougeon, who served as rural affairs minister before becoming public health minister, has been promoted to become Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands, while Kate Forbes remains at finance with an expanded brief to include the economy.

But with former health secretary Shona Robison and one-time economy secretary Keith Brown both making Cabinet comebacks – as the Social Justice, Housing and Local Government Secretary and Justice Secretary respectively – opposition politicians hit out at Ms Sturgeon’s “recycled” front-bench team.

Scottish Conservative chief whip Stephen Kerr said: “The best that Nicola Sturgeon can muster is the same tired faces that have already failed Scotland’s schools, hospitals and justice system.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “The new Cabinet has not been refreshed; it’s been recycled. There are more old faces from the past than new ones for the future.”

Mr Rennie welcomed the appointment of a Covid Recovery Secretary, but added: “The appointment of a cabinet secretary for the constitution will distract effort and consume resources that should be used for recovery from the pandemic.

“Now is not the moment to appoint a minister for another referendum. We will oppose this appointment in Parliament on Thursday.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar added: “The national recovery must be this Parliament’s collective national mission, not the arguments of the past.

“Not only will the new Government have to lead Scotland out of a pandemic, they will have to take action to rectify the several failings of the previous government, including the drugs death crisis and the looming exams debacle.”

But Ms Sturgeon said she was “delighted” to unveil her new Cabinet.

“Scotland needs a serious Government for the serious times we face as a nation, and in the top level ministerial line-up I have announced today we have exactly that, ” she said.

“It is a Government which will drive Scotland forward, as we look to build a just, fair and sustainable recovery from the Covid pandemic.

“My Cabinet team combines experience with new arrivals and fresh faces, giving us the range and depth of talent we need to tackle the pressing issues we need to tackle, from Covid to climate change.

“This term of office is unquestionably the most important one the nation has faced since devolution, more than 20 years ago.

“We are dealing with the joint challenges of a global pandemic and recovery from it, the ongoing tests posed by Brexit and the urgent, pressing need to take forward our net-zero agenda as part of the global efforts to secure a greener future.

“The magnitude of these challenges is clear, but now is not a moment to shirk from those tasks but to embrace them.

“In the next five years, we have a chance to shape Scotland permanently for the better, creating a healthier, happier, fairer, more prosperous and more sustainable country for everyone who calls Scotland home, establishing a positive legacy for future generations.

“The immediate challenge is the focus on recovery and the part that all policy portfolios can play in that.

“But, as I have made clear, when the crisis is over and the time is right, Scotland must and will have the chance to choose its future in line with the unquestionable democratic mandate for that choice.”

Yousaf ‘humbled and daunted’ as he becomes Health Secretary

Humza Yousaf has said he is “humbled and a little daunted” as he takes on the role of Health Secretary in Nicola Sturgeon’s new Cabinet.

He moves from the justice role to being the minister responsible for the NHS and social care.

This will include NHS remobilisation after the pandemic and the establishment of a National Care Service.

Ahead of the election, the SNP pledged a “transformational” increase in NHS spending and a new national service which would oversee the delivery of social care.

Tweeting about his new appointment, Mr Yousaf said: “Humbled, and a little daunted, by task ahead.

“I will put political differences aside & work constructively with colleagues across the Chamber & externally to ensure we put pandemic response & recovery at the heart of our health & social care service.”

Angus Robertson returns to frontline politics with key role in Scottish Cabinet

ngus Robertson has returned to frontline politics after being appointed as the Scottish Government’s Constitution Secretary.

Along with his victory in the Edinburgh Central seat on May 6, it marks a dramatic return after a period outside of elected office for the former deputy leader of the SNP.

Mr Robertson is one of the new faces in Nicola Sturgeon’s Cabinet, announced on Wednesday.

While the 51-year-old is a political veteran, it is the first time he has been a Scottish Government minister.

The portfolio covers constitutional policy, European and wider external relations, as well as post-Brexit issues.

With the SNP committed to pushing for a second independence referendum during the current parliamentary session, Mr Robertson’s views on the constitution will shape much of the political debate in the coming years.

New Cabinet gives Scotland ‘serious Government’, says Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon has said her new Cabinet will give Scotland a “serious Government for the serious times we face”, as she completed a major reshuffle of her front-bench team.

The First Minister had already announced that her deputy John Swinney was being moved from education – where his performance has come under fire – to the new role of Covid Recovery Secretary.

Shirley-Anne Somerville, who had previously held the social security brief, is the new Education Secretary – although her appointment had to be made via a Zoom call after it emerged a member of her family is self-isolating.

Humza Yousaf moves from justice to become the Health and Social Care Secretary – which will see him play a key role in tackling coronavirus and take on responsibility for work to set up a new National Care Service.

Angus Robertson, the former SNP Westminster leader who was elected as an MSP less than two weeks ago, goes straight into the Cabinet as the new Constitution Secretary – a post which had been held by Mike Russell before he stepped down from Holyrood.

Mr Robertson’s new portfolio will also include culture and external affairs, and will see him speak for the Scottish Government on issues including post-Brexit relations.

The First Minister unveiled her new team in a socially-distanced photocall outside Bute House, her official residence in Edinburgh.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I’m delighted to announce the Scottish Government’s new Cabinet team. Scotland needs a serious Government for the serious times we face as a nation, and in the top level ministerial line-up I have announced today we have exactly that.

“It is a Government which will drive Scotland forward, as we look to build a just, fair and sustainable recovery from the Covid pandemic.

“My Cabinet team combines experience with new arrivals and fresh faces, giving us the range and depth of talent we need to tackle the pressing issues we need to tackle, from Covid to climate change.”

With climate change taking centre stage as Glasgow prepares to host the global Cop26 summit, Ms Sturgeon has appointed Michael Matheson into the new post of Cabinet Secretary for Net Zero, Energy and Transport.

Mr Matheson, who had previously served as transport secretary, will now have responsibility across Scotland for efforts to deliver net-zero, working across the transport, environment and energy portfolios, as well as being involved in the delivery of Cop26 this November.

But while the issues of coronavirus and climate change are key, the First Minister also stressed Scotland should again have the “chance to choose its future” in a second independence referendum, insisting there is an “unquestionable democratic mandate for that”.

Ms Sturgeon said: “This term of office is unquestionably the most important one the nation has faced since devolution, more than 20 years ago.

“We are dealing with the joint challenges of a global pandemic and recovery from it, the ongoing tests posed by Brexit and the urgent, pressing need to take forward our net-zero agenda as part of the global efforts to secure a greener future.

“The magnitude of these challenges is clear, but now is not a moment to shirk from those tasks but to embrace them.

“In the next five years, we have a chance to shape Scotland permanently for the better, creating a healthier, happier, fairer, more prosperous and more sustainable country for everyone who calls Scotland home, establishing a positive legacy for future generations.

“The immediate challenge is the focus on recovery and the part that all policy portfolios can play in that.

“But, as I have made clear, when the crisis is over and the time is right, Scotland must and will have the chance to choose its future in line with the unquestionable democratic mandate for that choice.”

Mairi Gougeon, who served as rural affairs minister before becoming public health minister, is promoted to become Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and Islands.

Both Keith Brown and Shona Robison are returned to the Cabinet, to serve as Justice Secretary and Social Justice, Housing and Local Government Secretary – with Ms Robison being given a focus on tackling child poverty in this role.

Kate Forbes remains at finance, with her brief expanded to include economic strategy, including the wellbeing economy, trade and inward investment, city and regional growth deals, enterprise and the digital economy.

“In the next five years, we have a chance to shape Scotland permanently for the better, creating a healthier, happier, fairer, more prosperous and more sustainable country for everyone who calls Scotland home, establishing a positive legacy for future generations.”

Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister

Nicola Sturgeon ‘delighted to announce the Scottish Government’s new Cabinet team'

Announcing the appointments, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: “I’m delighted to announce the Scottish Government’s new Cabinet team. Scotland needs a serious Government for the serious times we face as a nation, and in the top level ministerial line-up I have announced today we have exactly that.

“It is a Government which will drive Scotland forward, as we look to build a just, fair and sustainable recovery from the Covid pandemic.

“My Cabinet team combines experience with new arrivals and fresh faces, giving us the range and depth of talent we need to tackle the pressing issues we need to tackle, from Covid to climate change.

“This term of office is unquestionably the most important one the nation has faced since devolution, more than 20 years ago. We are dealing with the joint challenges of a global pandemic and recovery from it, the ongoing tests posed by Brexit and the urgent, pressing need to take forward our net zero agenda as part of the global efforts to secure a greener future.

“The magnitude of these challenges is clear, but now is not a moment to shirk from those tasks but to embrace them. In the next five years, we have a chance to shape Scotland permanently for the better, creating a healthier, happier, fairer, more prosperous and more sustainable country for everyone who calls Scotland home, establishing a positive legacy for future generations.

“The immediate challenge is the focus on recovery and the part that all policy portfolios can play in that. But, as I have made clear, when the crisis is over and the time is right, Scotland must and will have the chance to choose its future in line with the unquestionable democratic mandate for that choice.”

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