BUSINESS groups have told Humza Yousaf he must improve relations with the sector as they revealed "disappointment" over the exit of trade minister Ivan McKee.

Organisations said criticisms made by Mr McKee of the administration as he quit his role today echo their concerns.

Mr McKee, who was appointed minister for business, trade, tourism and enterprise by Nicola Sturgeon, told The Herald this morning that he was leaving the administration after five years following a meeting with Mr Yousaf.

He revealed he had been offered a smaller remit in the business and trade brief than he had under the former First Minister. He said there was a need for "a reset" between government and business.


Asked by the paper precisely why he was leaving, he said: "To be absolutely frank with you. It is immensely frustrating having to talk to businesses everyday and listen to their problems without have the ability to actually do anything about it."

His departure follows the resignation yesterday of finance secretary Kate Forbes, who had been narrowly defeated by Mr Yousaf in the SNP leadership contest, which ended on Monday.

Ms Forbes quit after being offered the role of rural affairs which would be regarded as a lesser role in government.

She has been replaced today by Shona Robison, a close ally of Ms Sturgeon who was a prominent supporter of Mr Yousaf in the leadership race. Ms Robison was unveiled yesterday as Deputy First Minister.

Responding to Mr McKee's exit, Dr Liz Cameron CBE, Chief Executive, Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said: “The Scottish business community is looking to the new First Minister to work closely with us to address the challenges facing the economy and unlock growth and investment.

READ MORE: Fresh blow to Yousaf as business minister quits government

“Firms need the new First Minister to adopt a pro-business attitude that helps drive growth, attract investment and create jobs so that Scotland can build a globally competitive economy.

"That can only be delivered if the Scottish Government makes economic growth its driving mission and works in a real, honest and open partnership with the business community.

“That must come with voices in the cabinet that productively engage and understand the concerns of the business community. Mr McKee’s comments that these concerns were not properly actioned within the previous Scottish Government are ones that will resonate with firms across the country. It is critical that this changes under the new government.”

Marc Crothall, chief executive of the Scottish Tourism Alliance, said: “We’re naturally disappointed that Ivan McKee will be departing government, having had a long period of close engagement with him during what has been the most difficult time for tourism in Scotland.  

"We have worked hard to ensure that politicians understand the issues and challenges facing our industry right now as a result of the cost of living and doing business crises and the tough road to recovery from the pandemic.  

"We have highlighted directly to Mr McKee the harms that proposed and current policies are having on the economic performance of the sector and he has been consistently keen to collaborate with us and ensure the voice of the industry is represented at the highest level.

"His experience within and understanding of the business community in Scotland will be missed by many sectors.  We very much look forward to learning more about the First Minister’s plans for how tourism as a sector is represented within his new Cabinet and we will continue to forge as productive a relationship as possible with that candidate.”