Nicola Sturgeon elected as First Minister and pledges education as focus

Nicola Sturgeon stands with family members after she was voted in as the First Minister. Picture: PA
Nicola Sturgeon stands with family members after she was voted in as the First Minister. Picture: PA
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NICOLA Sturgeon has told her opponents she will seek “progressive” alliances to prop up her left-of-centre minority government as she was officially reappointed as Scotland’s First Minister.

The SNP leader will today unveil her new Cabinet line-up with a reshuffle expected.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney is being linked with the education brief as Ms Sturgeon again described education as her key priority, which would see Angela Constance lose her post.

Mr Swinney’s role from the last parliament as finance secretary is having some responsibilities moved to a new economic secretary role and there is also speculation he could take on one of these roles.

External affairs minister Humza Yousaf and Derek MacKay, the transport minister, have also linked with promotion to Cabinet posts.

Ms Sturgeon will be appointed by the Queen and take the oath of office at the Court of Session today, before heading back to Bute House to finalise the make-up of her new team of senior ministers.

She was formally re-elected by MSPs yesterday with the support of all 63 Nationalists, fending off competition from Willie Rennie of the Liberal Democrats who stood against her, but won the support of just five Lib Dems. MSPs from Labour, the Conservatives and Greens all abstained.

• READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon pledges not to govern by force of numbers

Ms Sturgeon said the elevation of the Conservatives to Scotland’s second-biggest party in Holyrood makes “the choice of the kind of country that we want to be sharper than it has been before”.

Ms Sturgeon stressed the SNP stands for universal free prescriptions, free education and Scottish independence, policies the Conservatives opposed in their manifesto.

She said: “I will do everything I possibly can to ensure that this moment in our ­history marks the beginning of a new age of national self-confidence.”

The SNP leader made it clear that education will be “firmly at the heart of everything my government aspires to do”.

Ruth Davidson, whose Tory party now has 31 MSPs, congratulated Ms Sturgeon and said her party was determined to fulfil its election promise of being the “strong opposition the parliament and this country so desperately requires”.

Ms Davidson said: “We will use the job of opposition to provide real alternatives for the Scottish Government to consider. The debate over those alternatives needs to start immediately.”

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