A tranche of rising stars of the SNP have today been appointed as junior ministers by Nicola Sturgeon as she completed her cabinet reshuffle.
Seven MSPs who were only elected in the 2016 Holyrood election have been promoted to Government posts, including one new minister in her 20s and two in their early thirties. There have been another two appointments from the backbenches to ministerial portfolios.
Among the younger talent being handed new roles are 28-year-old Kate Forbes who becomes public finance and digital economy minister, while Angus North and Mearns MSP Mairi Gougeon, 33, becomes minister for Rural Affairs and the Environment. Edinburgh Northern and Leith MSP Ben Macpherson, 34, takes Minister for Europe, Migration and International Development, while Edinburgh Eastern MSP Ash Denham, 44, takes over as community safety minister replacing Annabelle Ewing.
Ivan McKee is another of the 2016 intake being promoted as he becomes minister for trade, investment and innovation, while Rutherglen MSP Clare Haughey takes over as minister for mental health. Gillian Martin is the new minister for further and higher education and science.
Scottish Government Cabinet Reshuffle LIVE: Nicola Sturgeon confirms new appointments
Two more senior backbench MSPS have also been promoted with Christina McKelvie taking over as minister for older people and equuality and Graeme dey becomes minister for Parliamentary Business and veterans.
Ms Sturgeon said: “The new ministers I am announcing today bring a range of fresh talent to the Scottish Government, ensuring that we are equipped to deal with the challenges and maximise the opportunities facing the people of Scotland.
“The ministerial team represents constituencies the length and breadth of Scotland, coming with a range of professional backgrounds and bringing a breadth of real life experience to their roles.
“For instance, Claire Haughey brings her extensive background as a mental health nurse to the mental health portfolio, Kate Forbes will bring her finance background to bear in her brief, Gillian Martin has long experience in further education as a college lecturer, and Ivan McKee brings the expertise he has acquired from a highly successful career in business to the role of Trade and Innovation Minister.
“All of the new ministers I have appointed today, have already proven themselves as effective parliamentarians – and I know that they will do likewise in Ministerial office.”
Other changes will see Joe Fitzpatrick become Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing. Jamie Hepburn takes on a new, expanded portfolio of Minister for Business, Fair Work and Skills. Paul Wheelhouse stays at energy but with a new focus on the islands.
Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw said: “In Nicola Sturgeon’s government, it’s harder to avoid a ministerial brief than to land one. The few who’ve been left out must wonder what on earth they’ve done wrong.
“The SNP repeatedly brags about being transparent, responsible with taxpayers’ cash and quite unlike any other government that’s been before.
The events of the last few days prove that to be nonsense.”