NICOLA Sturgeon has reshuffled her cabinet in the wake of Derek Mackay’s resignation, with women holding most of the top jobs for the first time.

The First Minister has promoted Kate Forbes to Mr Mackay’s old job of Finance Secretary after she successfully delivered the draft budget earlier this month.

However the First Minister has given Mr Mackay’s other role, on the economy, to Fiona Hyslop.

The current External Affairs secretary, Ms Hyslop will now become Cabinet Secretary for Economy, Fair Work and Culture.

The Scottish Tories said no reshuffle could "disguise the fact that the SNP’s time in government is up”.

READ MORE: Analysis: Does Derek Mackay scandal mark the beginning of the end for the SNP?


Mike Russell adds the external affairs brief to his portfolio, becoming Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, Europe and External Affairs. 

Fergus Ewing adds tourism to his job as Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Tourism.

Backbencher Jenny Gilruth, whose partner is former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale, is promoted to Minister for Europe and International Development, supporting Mr Russell. 

Former Europe minister Ben Macpherson takes on Ms Forbes’s old job as Minister for Public Finance and Migration. 

The Government said Mr Macpherson would also work on issues around green and climate finance, and ensure “wellbeing sits at the heart of the budget process”. 

Mr Mackay sensationally quit the government on the eve of his fourth budget after it emerged he had been pestering a 16-year-old boy on social media.

He has not been since in public since February 5.

The changes mean seven of the 12 members of the cabinet are women.

However the wider Scottish Government, including junior ministers, is 50-50 gender balanced at 13 men and 13 women.

READ MORE: The messages that led to Derek Mackay's downfall 

Ms Sturgeon will formally propose the appointment of Ms Forbes to Cabinet and of Jenny Gilruth as a Minister to the Scottish Parliament tomorrow.

Ms Sturgeon said: “These appointments bring new talent into government and deliver a real focus, not only on driving forward our economy, but also on addressing the challenges of Brexit, increasing our population and ending Scotland’s contribution to the climate crisis.

“I am pleased to make these appointments and - in particular - to be able to put Scotland’s finances and Scotland’s economy into the hands of two incredibly talented colleagues.

HeraldScotland:  Fiona Hyslop Fiona Hyslop

“Fiona Hyslop has been an outstanding Cabinet Secretary, delivering a successful expansion of Scotland’s overseas presence and recognition, supporting our booming tourism industry and demonstrating the huge importance of culture - not just to our economy, but more importantly to who we are and how we see ourselves.

“I know she will bring that drive, passion and sharp focus to Scotland’s economy. Working alongside Kate Forbes as the Cabinet Secretary for Finance, she will continue to drive forward our economy, support our key industries and maintain Scotland’s long tradition as an outward-looking, dynamic and enterprising nation.


“Ben Macpherson will continue to make the case for Scotland to have a distinct migration system in order to meet our economic, social and financial needs – and as Public Finance Minister will also take the lead on identifying ways to fund climate action, and he will work across government to build a wellbeing economy.

“Jenny Gilruth will join government for the first time – having proven herself as a talented and hard-working MSP – and takes on the role of Minister for Europe and International Development. She will have the important task of promoting Scotland, building new links in a post-Brexit environment and delivering on our global responsibilities – and I know she is more than up to that challenge.”

The Scottish Tories highlighted an admisssion by Ms Forbes in June 2018 that she found it easier to blame others rather than accept responsibility.

The Skye MSP told a Reform Scotland event: "It’s far easier for me – and I do it all the time – to stand up and blame Brexit or to blame Westminster or to blame somebody else."

Tory MSP Murdo Fraser said: "It’s refreshing to know that Kate Forbes dislikes her colleagues’ obsession with blaming Brexit and Westminster when it comes to major SNP failings.

“Having made these remarks, I hope she now stands by them and embodies a major SNP government figure who’s actually willing to take responsibility for devolved issues.

“People are getting sick of the nationalists pointing the finger at everyone else, when clearly they are the ones who’ve made a gigantic mess of domestic issues like health, education and the economy.

“And while the appointment of Kate Forbes to such a senior role is well-deserved, it cannot hide the brutal shortcomings of this clapped-out government.

“The SNP has been in charge in Scotland for 13 years, over which time education has descended into crisis, the NHS has deteriorated, and our economy badly lags the rest of the UK.

“No shuffling of personnel can disguise the fact that the SNP’s time in government is up.”