Neil Gray: Who is Scotland's health secretary and potential leadership candidate to replace Humza Yousaf

The Scotsman looks at everything you need to know about Neil Gray – the health secretary and Humza Yousaf ally that could be in the running to replace the First Minister

Neil Gray was announced as Scotland’s new health secretary just two months ago - and now he is being touted as a potential candidate to replace Humza Yousaf.

The 37-year-old took on one of the biggest and most important briefs in the Scottish Parliament in February after Michael Matheson resigned as health secretary.

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Mr Gray is also a close ally of Mr Yousaf, who is set to resign following the fallout from his decision to last week scrap the Bute House Agreement with the Scottish Greens.

But who exactly is Mr Gray? The Scotsman takes a look at what you need to know about the man who is now in charge of Scotland’s health.

Where did Neil Gray grow up?

Mr Gray grew up in Kirkwall, Orkney, and has said he was inspired to get into politics after his father campaigned to stop his primary school being closed.

As a child, Mr Gray enjoyed athletics and said he spent most of his weekends travelling to different competitions, before going to study politics and journalism at Stirling University.

Before becoming a politician himself, Mr Gray worked in former health secretary Alex Neil’s Airdrie and Shotts constituency office.

How did he start off in politics?

Mr Gray began his political career in Westminster.

He won the Airdrie and Shotts seat in 2015 and was the SNP’s spokesman on social justice, work and pensions, and fair work and employment.

However, he quit as an MP in 2021 and became the MSP for Airdrie and Shotts in the Scottish Parliament elections that year.

What has he been up to in Holyrood?

In January 2022, Mr Gray became culture, Europe and international development minister, and in March 2022 he was also given responsibility for Ukrainian refugees.

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During the SNP leadership election, Mr Gray was one of the strongest backers of Humza Yousaf, and he was rewarded for this loyalty by being made economy secretary.

He has held this post since Mr Yousaf became First Minister in March last year.

Who else got a new job in the Cabinet reshuffle in February?

The reshuffle meant a few other MSPs received new jobs.

Màiri McAllan became wellbeing economy, net zero and energy secretary, after the First Minister decided to merge the climate and economy portfolios.

Fiona Hyslop was also promoted from transport minister to transport secretary.

Three new ministers were appointed – Christina McKelvie became drugs and alcohol policy minister, Kaukab Stewart became international development minister, and Jim Fairlie became agriculture and connectivity minister.

Ms Stewart is the first woman of colour to enter the Scottish Government.



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