JAMIE Hepburn is to be the minister for independence.

Humza Yousaf appointed him to the role as part of his extended reshuffle today.

The creation of the past was one of Mr Yousaf’s pledges during the SNP leadership contest.

Mr Hepburn, the MSP for Cumbernauld and Kilysth, had been the minister for higher and further education, youth employment and training. 

It is understood Mr Hepburn’s overtly political role will be a novelty for the Scottish Government.

He will report directly to Mr Yousaf and operate as a backroom ‘fixer’, coordinating work on independence across the administration.

However his low profile also suggests Mr Yousaf, who has refused to put a timeframe on ending the Union, does not expect an active independence campaign anytime soon. 

His deputy first minister Shona Robison today said it “will take as long as it takes”.

Former Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, who almost beat Mr Yousaf in the SNP leadership, quit the government on Tuesday night after being offered a demotion to Rural Affairs.

Also out of the government are trade minister Ivan McKee, who quit the government this morning, children’s minister Claire Haughey and Ben Macpherson.

Mr Macpherson, who had been social security and local government minister, was unhappy at being offered transport ministerand wanted a cabinet post.

Transport minister Jenny Gilruth was today promoted to Education Secretary.

In a tweet, Mr Macpherson said he had already had four junior ministerial roles and had “respectfuly declined” a fifth.

He said: “I believe I’ve served well & reliably, & I’m proud of all that I’ve helped to deliver through challenging times.” He wished the others ministers success. 

Also expected to be offered ministerial posts are the 2021 intake MSPs Natalie Don, Emma Roddick and Paul McLennan.

Former ministers Joe FitzPatrick and Graeme Dey are also set to return to government.

STV suggested one beneficiary of Mr Macpherson’s exit could be Gillian Martin, who almost became university minister in 2018 but was dropped over comments on a personal blog.

Written in 2016, it referred to “hairy knuckled lipstick wearing transitional transgender Laydees” and the EU having a “Tranny Trove” of money.