Scottish Government reshuffle: Who are the new - and returning - faces in the Cabinet?

In announcing her new Cabinet after the SNP’s thumping election victory on May 6, Nicola Sturgeon said the list of appointments “combines experience with new arrivals”.

Of the nine Cabinet secretaries appointed by the First Minister on Wednesday, five had already held positions in the Scottish Government’s top team.

Humza Yousaf, now health secretary, Kate Forbes, Michael Matheson, Shirley-Anne Somerville and John Swinney were moved or given expanded portfolios.

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However, four new or returning old faces are also now part of the Cabinet.

Keith Brown, Shona Robison, Mairi Gougeon and Angus Robertson are the new faces in Nicola Sturgeon's cabinet.

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Mairi Gougeon

The MSP for Angus North and Mearns has held two junior ministerial roles prior to her appointment as Cabinet secretary for rural affairs and the islands.

Between June 2018 and December last year, Ms Gougeon was a junior minister for rural affairs and the natural environment before taking over the minister for public health and sport role in December.

This move was part of the minor reshuffle following the resignation of Joe FitzPatrick from the role over Scotland’s record high drug deaths, with Angela Constance taking on a specific portfolio of drug policy.

In her new role, Ms Gougeon will take on the significant challenges facing rural Scotland such as the impact of Brexit on the agriculture sector, as well as fisheries policy and wider food and drink issues.

She will also be tasked with helping the Scottish Government implement policy affecting the islands, which will likely mean many sleepless nights dealing with issues such as CalMac’s struggling ferry fleet and depopulation.

Prior to her election to Holyrood in 2016, the MSP was a councillor on Angus Council.

She also has a degree in history from the University of Aberdeen.

Shona Robison

One of two former Cabinet secretaries to return to the top table of Scottish politics following the election alongside Keith Brown.

The MSP for Dundee City East has been appointed as social justice, housing and local government secretary and will take charge of the Scottish Government’s aim to lower child poverty and build 100,000 new affordable homes.

The role is Ms Robison’s third job in the SNP Cabinet having been first appointed Cabinet secretary for the Commonwealth Games, sport, equalities and pensioner’s rights by former first minister Alex Salmond in April 2014.

Following the Mr Salmond’s resignation and Nicola Sturgeon’s election as First Minister, she was moved to the health brief – a role she held until June 2018.

Her time in the health role was far from controversy free and she stood down in 2018 with Scotland’s cancer waiting times at its worst for six years.

The politician is close to the First Minister, however, and will provide much needed ministerial experience otherwise lacking in the SNP group.

Angus Robertson

One of the most high-profile names to win a seat in Holyrood in the election earlier this month, the former SNP leader in Westminster is an well-known figure in the world of politics.

It is therefore highly unsurprising that Nicola Sturgeon has trusted the Edinburgh Central MSP with the job of causing as much of a ruckus over the constitution as possible.

Mr Robertson is a trusted, well-spoken ally of the First Minister and will be well-placed to make the case around indyref2 to Boris Johnson and potential international allies.

It is, however, his first ministerial post, having never been elected to the Scottish Parliament prior to May.

It is also a return to frontline politics after he lost his Moray seat in the House of Commons in 2017 to Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross.

Since that defeat he set up the pro-independence think-tank Progress Scotland, which commissioned opinion polling around independence.

Keith Brown

The jack-of-all-trades and current rent-a-quote deputy leader of the SNP is back at the top table of government after three years away.

He was removed from his position as economy secretary in 2018 – a year after he was heavily criticised for signing a deal with two Chinese companies he said was worth up to £10 billion.

He was later forced to apologise for the deal and narrowly defeated a motion of censure in Holyrood.

Deputy leader since June 2018, he has largely focused on this role since, but has served as a minister for transport, skills and lifelong learning, and infrastructure in previous administrations.

Mr Brown’s new role is hardly one without its issues. As justice secretary, he will be tasked with sorting out the remaining aspects of the Hate Crime Bill yet to be finalised, specifically around misogyny.

The MSP for Clackmannanshire and Dunblane will also be forced to tackle a huge backlog of court cases and ongoing issues with mental health in prison.

Mairi McAllan

Ms McAllan has become a minister less than two weeks after being elected to Holyrood.

Previously part of the First Minister’s team of special advisers, Ms McAllan has become the new minister for environment, biodiversity and land reform.

She was elected to the Scottish Parliament in the May 6 election to represent the Clydesdale constituency.

George Adam

An MSP since 2011 and the SNP group chief whip at Holyrood, Mr Adam has been made the new minister for parliamentary business.

The Paisley MSP had received almost 18,000 votes at this month’s Scottish election ahead of Labour’s Neil Bibby to retain his seat for a third term.

Thomas Arthur

Mr Arthur, who had been deputy whip, was handed the role of public finance minister.

The Renfrewshire South MSP was re-elected earlier this month for a second term and has been rewarded with a junior ministerial post fresh from gaining an increased majority of 7,106 votes in his constituency.

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