Humza Yousaf's Cabinet meets for first time
HUMZA Yousaf's Cabinet has met for the first time following the confirmatory vote in Holyrood on Thursday.
According to a statement from the Scottish Government, the First Minister and his top team had a "substantive discussion on the priorities of the government."
The meeting comes as one of the SNP leader's MPs criticised him for not finding government roles for Kate Forbes and Ash Regan in the leadership contest. She said he had "decided to fashion a government of his supporters, vanquishing the losers and their supporters to the backbenches."
In her weekly column in The National, the MP said the new government "consists of the remnants of the older generation together with the natural heirs and successors of those who have retired."
She said this meant pledges made during the contest "for a bigger tent approach to government and party ring hollow."
"The talent and experience on the SNP backbenches are certainly now equal to that of the front bench," she added.
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Ms Forbes reportedly turned down a demotion to Rural Affairs minister, opting instead to return to the backbenchers.
Ms Regan - who Ms Cherry backed in the contest - was not offered a role in government.
Only one MSP who backed Ms Forbes is in government, Victims and Community Safety Minister, Siobhan Brown.
In their readout, the government said the new administration also discussed the "importance of building relationships with counterparts in other devolved administrations and the UK Government."
That promise to work with Whitehall comes as Mr Yousaf faces fierce criticism over the appointment of a Minister for Independence.
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Jamie Hepburn, who has been tasked with advancing the cause, has been given a ministerial salary of £98,000.
That led to Douglas Ross dubbing him a “taxpayer-funded nationalist campaigner” during Thursday's First Minister's Questions.
In an interview with The National, Mr Hepburn said his appointment made it “abundantly clear” independence is a priority for the Scottish Government.
"If anyone thinks independence is off the agenda for the SNP then this is a very clear demonstration that that’s not the case.
“The SNP has a mandate to continue to seek to advance the proposition that Scotland should be independent through the means of Government. We secured that mandate in the 2021 election.
"There’s a majority in favour of independence in the Scottish Parliament so having a minister makes it very explicit and abundantly clear that’s the responsibility. I suppose it’s a re-emphasis of that being the reality and the work will continue.”
Following the Cabinet, Mr Yousaf said: “I was pleased to welcome new and returning Cabinet members to our first meeting this morning.
"I was clear to them that I want Cabinet to be a forum for open and honest discussion.
"We all look forward to reaching out to stakeholders, the business community, opposition parties and the wider public in a spirit of genuine collaboration.
“This government has a strong track of taking forward ambitious and radical policies and reforms over the last few years, against a backdrop of austerity, economic uncertainty and of course the Covid-19 pandemic.
"Under my leadership, the Ministerial team have been tasked with taking a bold approach to how we govern – not just in addressing the challenges facing the people of Scotland, but also maximising the opportunities of our many strengths.
“Our key priorities will include eradicating poverty and delivering a wellbeing economy underpinned by sustainable public services.
“I will set out more detail to parliament following Easter recess – but in the next couple of weeks, Cabinet members will be busy getting down to work on the immediate issues in their portfolios.”