Dundee SNP veteran Shona Robison will become Scotland’s deputy first minister, new party leader Humza Yousaf announced.
Mr Yousaf revealed key supporter Ms Robison would become his No2 instead of leadership rival Kate Forbes – who meanwhile snubbed an offer to serve in his new-look government.
Dundee City East MSP Ms Robison has long been a close ally of Nicola Sturgeon and was a strong backer of Mr Yousaf’s bid to take over.
Mr Yousaf said to journalists he was “delighted” to confirm Ms Robison as his deputy while she flanked him after they left the chamber.
Ms Robison said it was a “real honour” to have been offered the senior post.
The new SNP leader was officially voted in as first minister in parliament on Tuesday afternoon, backed by a majority of MSPs.
Mr Yousaf said it was a “privilege” to take on the role as rival party leaders congratulated him on becoming the first Scottish Government leader from an ethnic minority background.
A real honour to be asked to serve as deputy First Minister, I look forward to supporting our First Minister @HumzaYousaf & getting down to the business of government, delivering on the people’s priorities & further building the case for independence 🏴
— Shona Robison MSP (@ShonaRobison) March 28, 2023
But their warm sentiments were brief as they warned the new first minister against his pursuit of independence and claimed the SNP were on a downward turn.
Ex-First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was seen sitting on the backbenches for the first time since her party took power.
Ms Forbes, the Highlands MSP who only narrowly lost in the SNP leadership contest, was also in the debating chamber.
She was offered a place in rural affairs instead of keeping her finance job – a move seen as a problem in the attempt to heal a divided party.
Ms Robison replaces departing deputy John Swinney, who ruled himself out of the running to succeed Ms Sturgeon and instead backed Mr Yousaf.
Dundee council chief John Alexander said: “It’s a fantastic appointment. She’s a passionate advocate.
“She’s a fantastic local MSP, she’s a great partner for me to work with from a city council perspective, and she really cares.
“I’m absolutely delighted for her, but perhaps more selfishly I’m delighted for the city.”
Mr Yousaf is expected to unveil his new cabinet on Thursday as he gets down to the business of running the country.
Dundee City West MSP Joe FitzPatrick was vocally supportive of Mr Yousaf, but it’s not known if he will be offered a role.
Mr FitzPatrick previously served as public health minister for his party before he stepped down in 2020 due to the drug deaths emergency.
Who is Shona Robison?
Holyrood veteran Ms Robison is one of the few remaining MSPs who have been serving in the Scottish Parliament since it first opened in 1999.
She was first elected on the regional list for the North East, but in 2003 she won the Dundee City East constituency which has been held by the SNP ever since.
Ms Robison served under Ms Sturgeon as her party’s health secretary from 2014 to 2018, when she stood down as pressures over NHS performance mounted.
Since the 2021 Holyrood election, the new deputy first minister has been the SNP’s social justice, housing and local government chief.
She was responsible for steering her party’s controversial gender reforms through parliament, which were later blocked by the UK Government.