Kate Forbes laughs briefly when asked whether the compliments she received from the business community when she was appointed Deputy First Minister last month will make this relationship easier or harder.

It is a moment which seems to highlight how she has embraced this new role, and the post of Cabinet Secretary for the Economy and Gaelic to which she was also appointed in May, enthusiastically and energetically, while being acutely aware of the challenges ahead and the responsibilities of office.

Relations between the Scottish Government and the business community have in recent years been strained, to say the least, something which is clearly not lost on Ms Forbes.

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During the interview in her office at the Scottish Parliament, at the end of what has no doubt been a busy day, she emphasises just how seriously she takes economic growth with an energy that suggests she is relishing being back in a senior role in the Scottish Government.

She addresses a raft of key economic and business issues with vigour and passion, and with much thought and detail. Such thought and detail, while it is to be expected from Ms Forbes, can certainly not be taken for granted when it comes to senior politicians talking about the economy as the recent vintage of Conservatives at Westminster, for example, have shown.

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Ms Forbes is in good humour as she discusses Scotland’s prospects in the Euro 2024 football tournament as we leave.

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Returning to the question about the compliments she received from senior figures in the Scottish business community, some of whom have not been slow to criticise the SNP, Ms Forbes replies: “It just makes expectations higher. I have got high standards to meet. I think it does speak to my general approach, which is to meet people on their terms. I have never shied away from engaging directly with business and with individuals, including those that are quickest to criticise us.”

She adds: “I always think that if you can find common ground, you can work together, and also if you are willing to be honest. There are some things that the Government can’t do that business would like us to do. I’m willing to be honest and up front about that rather than offering promises that can’t be met easily. So I do think it speaks to a constructive approach and the knowledge that, if people do have concerns, they can address them directly.”

It is perhaps this straightforward approach which has made Ms Forbes more popular with the business community than some senior figures in the Scottish Government have been in recent years..

First Minister John Swinney himself received some compliments for his approach when he took up his post in May.

Ms Forbes makes plain her understanding of the pressures on businesses.

She says: “During Covid, I was finance secretary and our relationship with business really suffered because of the difficult decisions we were making to keep the population safe in terms of lockdowns. And I saw the pain and anguish of particularly small businesses, some of whom for example forewent income themselves in order to keep their staff paid at 100% on top of furlough.

“So there is a lot of sacrifice in the sector and it was really difficult and a lot of businesses are still struggling for example with the post-Covid loans they need to pay off, the spiralling energy prices, the impact of inflation on their bottom line, and I think we need to recognise that there is still a legacy from Covid that affects Scottish business and work with them to rebuild post-Covid.”