Forbes quits government after rejecting job offer
UPDATE 29 March: Kate Forbes became Humza Yousaf’s first casualty after she resigned from the Scottish Government.
The Finance Secretary, who lost to Mr Yousaf in the SNP leadership race, rejected an offer to take on rural affairs as speculation mounted that her frosty relationship with the Greens may have played a part in giving her a lower profile.
There were reports that she told Mr Yousaf “where to stick it” when offered the job. However, she later played this down. “Being appointed to any job in Gov is nothing but a privilege and an honour,” she tweeted. “I’d never be as impolite about any such offer as has been attributed.”
Mr Yousaf, who was confirmed as First Minister in a Holyrood vote, said in his election victory speech that he wanted to work with Ms Forbes and the other defeated contender Ash Regan.
Despite appearing to make up, and embracing after Mr Yousaf was declared the winner, he clashed with Ms Forbes during the campaign, notably when she brutally criticised her opponent’s record in three Cabinet roles during a TV debate.
Mr Yousaf said he wanted Ms Forbes to join his government, but she turned down the role, apparently considering it a demotion.
Tonight she diplomatically tweeted: “I have full confidence he will appoint a talented Cabinet and Ministerial team, able to meet the challenges facing the country,” but made no specific reference to the job offer.
The new government leader has appointed Shona Robison as his deputy and more Cabinet posts will be announced this week. Ms Robison said (Monday) that Ms Forbes wanted a better work-life balance and she hoped the former Finance Secretary would return to government.
The business community, which had favoured Ms Forbes to become First Minister, is likely to be disappointed that she is now leaving government altogether.
She will sit on the backbenches with former FM Nicola Sturgeon and former DFM John Swinney, who stood in for her as Finance Secretary during her maternity leave and was also well-liked by the business community.