Business leaders react to John Swinney as First Minister - as he says politicians will need to work together for Scotland's economy

John Swinney, with his wife Elizabeth Quigley, on the steps of Bute House in Edinburgh, the official residence of the First Minister, after he was voted by MSPs to be Scotland's next first minister, succeeding Humza Yousaf
John Swinney, with his wife Elizabeth Quigley, on the steps of Bute House in Edinburgh, the official residence of the First Minister -Credit:PA

Business leaders have welcomed John Swinney’s arrival as Scotland’s new First Minister -as the SNP leader has pledged to “make things happen” and quickly agree a budget.

Mr Swinney was elected SNP leader on Monday following Humza Yousaf’s resignation, and on Tuesday won a vote at Holyrood to become First Minister. He won the backing of 64 MSPs, while seven Scottish Green MSPs abstained.

As Mr Swinney will lead a minority Government following the end of the power-sharing agreement with the Greens, Mr Swinney will need to work with rival parties to pass legislation and the Scottish Budget.

He shook hands with opposition leaders in Parliament after saying he would need to “reach out to others to make things happen, to pass legislation, to agree a budget”.

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Mr Swinney said: “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”.

He added: “I am here to serve you. I will give everything I have to build the best future for our country.”

Catherine McWilliam, Nations Director at IoD Scotland said: “We’d like to extend a warm welcome back to Mr. Swinney as he takes up the post of First Minister. He has a history of strong relationships with many of Scotland’s cross sector, cross industry leaders, and we look forward to having productive dialogue with him and his team about how best to restore business confidence and ensure economic growth across the country.”

Sara Thiam, chief executive at Prosper ( formerly the Scottish Council for Development & Industry ), said: “We congratulate John Swinney on his election as the new First Minister of Scotland. Prosper has had a positive relationship with Mr Swinney from his time at Westminster, through the early years of the Scottish Parliament, in his Ministerial offices and as Deputy First Minister.

“Over the 25 years of the Scottish Parliament the new First Minister will have seen perhaps more closely than anyone that sustainable growth supports sound public finances, good public services and a prosperous society – and the consequences of a weak economy.

“Given the challenges that Scotland faces now, it could not be more vital that this guides his programme for all of government, relations with Holyrood parties and partnerships with business, public and third sectors.

“We look forward to working with First Minister Swinney on the priorities for a more prosperous Scotland.”

Speaking on Monday, Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance (STA), said: “The STA has built a strong and productive relationship with Mr Swinney over the course of many years, and we are encouraged to hear Mr Swinney’s early signalling of a renewed commitment to economic growth.

“Furthermore, we call on the new First Minister to support Scotland in realising the vision outlined in its national tourism strategy, that ‘Scotland will be a leader in 21st century tourism’.

“Key to this will be the reinstatement of a tourism and hospitality ministerial role at Cabinet level. Given the sector’s immense importance to Scotland’s economy and its diverse nature, we believe it is essential for our industry to have a dedicated voice at the highest level of government.

“Our vision and mission align closely with the Scottish Government’s National Strategy for Economic Transformation, it is imperative that the tourism and hospitality sector is represented at the top table of government so that barriers to the sector’s growth can be overcome with supportive policy, and the many opportunities in front of us are recognised and fully understood by all in the new Cabinet.”

Mr Crothall added: “We look forward to working collaboratively with Mr Swinney and his government to ensure the continued success and growth of Scotland’s tourism and hospitality industry and to ensure that progressive and supportive policy is developed together with Scotland’s wider business community to maximise Scotland’s economic potential.

“We eagerly anticipate early engagement in the coming weeks, where we will have the opportunity to share the Scottish Tourism Alliance’s policy agenda for growth with the new government”.

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