Two of Scotland’s longest-serving cabinet secretaries are to leave the Scottish Government.
Both Economy Secretary Fiona Hyslop and Rural Economy and Tourism Secretary Fergus Ewing have been part of the Scottish Cabinet since 2007 – the year the SNP came to power.
But with Nicola Sturgeon conducting a major reshuffle of her ministerial team, she confirmed both Ms Hyslop and Mr Ewing would no longer be part of it.
The First Minister has already announced that John Swinney is being moved from the education brief within the Scottish Government, and will now be Scotland’s Coronavirus Recovery Secretary, at the same time as remaining in post as Deputy First Minister.
Speaking as she began her Cabinet reshuffle, Ms Sturgeon said: “I want to pay tribute to the work of both Fiona Hyslop and Fergus Ewing and to thank them for their unstinting public service over many years.
“Fiona has served in Cabinet since 2007, firstly as education secretary, then as culture and external affairs secretary before taking on the Economy and Fair Work portfolio.
“Her tenure in the external affairs brief saw Fiona oversee the expansion of the Scottish Government’s international footprint, giving our country a higher profile than it has ever had before on the global stage, and that is a legacy which she can and should be justly proud of.”
Speaking about Mr Ewing, the First Minister said: “Fergus has also been part of the ministerial team since 2007, and has brought diligence and endeavour to all of the jobs he has held.
“In particular, he has worked tirelessly with and on behalf of Scotland’s rural sector over the past five years since the Brexit vote, fighting their corner at every turn.
“Fergus has been a champion for Scotland’s farmers and crofters during one of the most difficult, challenging and uncertain periods our agricultural sector has ever faced, and he has the gratitude of many in the industry for his efforts to protect their interests.”
Ms Sturgeon said: “I want to offer my sincere thanks to Fiona and Fergus for their service, and wish them well as they continue to serve their constituents in the new Parliament.”
The reshuffle is taking place after the SNP won a record fourth term in government at Holyrood, although Ms Sturgeon’s party just fell short of winning an overall majority.
The election in May also saw a number of senior politicians leave the Scottish Parliament, with Constitution Secretary Mike Russell, Health Secretary Jeane Freeman, Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham and Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell all choosing to step away from politics, while energy minister Paul Wheelhouse failed to be re-elected.
Humza Yousaf, who is currently Justice Secretary, was the first to arrive at Bute House, followed by Kate Forbes, who currently holds the finance brief.
Meanwhile, Ms Sturgeon revealed on Twitter that coronavirus measures meant she had to speak to Shirley-Anne Sommerville, who is currently Social Security Secretary, via Zoom.
The First Minister tweeted: “Covid resulting in a somewhat unorthodox Cabinet Secretary appointment today (tho watch this space for portfolio!!) – for @S_A_Somerville the Bute House walk has been replaced with a zoom call due to her having a family member in isolation!”