Kate Forbes returns to Scottish Government as Deputy First Minister

Kate Forbes has returned to the Scottish Government for the first time since last year's bitter SNP leadership contest.

The 34-year-old was today named Deputy First Minister as part of John Swinney's Cabinet top team - becoming the youngest ever person to hold the title.

The MSP for Skye and Lochaber will also serve as Economy Secretary.

Shona Robison, who chose to stand down as Deputy First Minister, will remain in the Cabinet as Finance Secretary, with responsibility for passing the Government's annual budget.

Forbes said: "I am deeply honoured to accept John’s invitation to be his Deputy First Minister.

"This is a moment of extraordinary privilege for me. Having previously served in Cabinet, I know the duty that all Ministers have to reflect the government’s priorities and the missions that drive them.

"I look forward to working with John and Cabinet colleagues, delivering for the people of Scotland and building a better country."

Swinney said: "I am very pleased to appoint Kate as Deputy First Minister and look forward to working with her in this new government.

“She is an immensely talented politician, and her new role will prove critical as we focus on our key commitments of eradicating child poverty, investing in public services and supporting economic growth."

Forbes was first promoted to a Cabinet position in February 2020 in dramatic circumstances after she was made Finance Secretary just hours before the Government was due to deliver its Budget.

She stepped in to replace Derek Mackay after his sudden resignation after he was caught up in a sexting scandal.

First elected as an MSP In 2016, Forbes was viewed early on as a political high-flyer.

But her campaign to replace Nicola Sturgeon as SNP leader in February 2023 quickly ran into trouble on account of her socially conservative personal views.

She came under fire for her views on gay marriage after she said she would have voted against it if she had been an MSP at the time.

And she was further criticised after suggesting having children outside of marriage was "wrong" according to her faith as a member of the Free Church of Scotland.

Her decision to launch a savage attack on Yousaf's record in government during a live STV debate also caused anger in the SNP hierarchy.

It set the tone of a long and frequently stormy leadership contest which saw the party slide in the polls.

Forbes ultimately narrowly lost the leadership race to Humza Yousaf in March 2023.

MPS Kate Forbes
MPS Kate Forbes -Credit:PA

She then left the Cabinet after being offered the rural affairs brief by the new First Minister - a move which was considered a snub.

But Forbes retained significant support in the SNP after she returned to the backbenches at Holyrood.

She was routinely tipped as a future leader - especially after Yousaf's administration began to struggle.

When he announced his resignation last month, many members hoped that Forbes would again step forward as a candidate.

She fuelled speculation over her intentions on April 30 when she said there was "a groundswell of support for me amongst the members - that was quite clear in the last contest".

But Forbes announced on May 2 she had chosen to stay out of the leadership race - effectively handing the job to Swinney in the process.

The Cabinet reshuffle prompted a lukewarm response from the Scottish Greens.

Co-leader Patrick Harvie, who lost his Government position when the Bute House Agreement collapsed, said: "There will be many people who will want to know this Scottish Government remains committed to a greener and more equal future.

"When it comes to delivering more progressive taxation, a just transition from oil and gas and a watertight ban on so-called conversion therapy, it is vital that this government does not dilute the longstanding commitments that it has made."

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