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Successor to Mackay

Forbes appointed Finance Secretary in mini-reshuffle

Kate Forbes

New role: Kate Forbes won praise over handling the Budget

Kate Forbes has been appointed Scottish Finance Secretary, replacing Derek Mackay who stood down over messages sent to a 16-year-old boy.

The 29-year-old Highlander, who steps up from Public Finance and Digital Economy minister, became the first woman to set out a budget at Holyrood or Westminster when she delivered the Budget to widely-held praise just hours after Mr Mackay resigned. Ms Forbes was only elected to parliament in 2016.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has decided to split the economy and finance portfolios and has handed Fiona Hyslop extra responsibility for the economy and fair work in addition to her role as Culture Secretary.

Jenny Gilruth has joined the government as Europe and International Development minister where she will support Michael Russell’s expanded portfolio on the Constitution, Europe and External Affairs.

Ben Macpherson takes on Ms Forbes’ former role and will also work on issues around green and climate finance.

Rural Economy Secretary Fergus Ewing will take on added responsibility for tourism.

Ms Sturgeon said the 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”.

Among the first to respond was David Lonsdale, director of the Scottish Retail Consortium, who said: “The promotion of Kate Forbes MSP to Finance Secretary is very encouraging.

“We have worked closely with Ms Forbes on the Non-Domestic Rates Bill, the saving of the Uniform Business Rate, and the Scottish Budget, and look forward to building on that positive relationship further. 

“The new Economy Secretary, Fiona Hyslop MSP, is an experienced Minister with a proven track record in government.

“With retail in the midst of significant transformation we look forward to working positively and constructively with her to develop a strategy aimed at bolstering the industry and helping its successful reinvention.”

The Scottish Conservatives said the new Finance Secretary should practise what she once preached – after it emerged she said the SNP government was too quick to “blame Brexit or blame Westminster”.

Shadow finance spokesman Murdo Fraser said: “It’s refreshing to know that Kate Forbes dislikes her colleagues’ obsession with blaming Brexit and Westminster when it comes to major SNP failings.

“Having made these remarks, I hope she now stands by them and embodies a major SNP government figure who’s actually willing to take responsibility for devolved issues.

“While the appointment of Kate Forbes to such a senior role is well-deserved, it cannot hide the brutal shortcomings of this clapped-out government.”

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Comment: Forbes and Hyslop must prove that the economy is not a sideshow

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