Scotland politics

New Scottish government ministers approved at Holyrood

Debate
Image caption Nicola Sturgeon joined in with the jokes on a largely light-hearted afternoon in the Holyrood chamber

Scotland's newest cabinet secretaries and junior ministers have been approved for their posts by the parliament.

Nicola Sturgeon sought Holyrood's backing to promote Derek Mackay and Fergus Ewing into her cabinet.

The first minister is also making Mark McDonald, Kevin Stewart, Jeane Freeman and Shirley-Anne Somerville junior ministers for the first time.

The moves were unanimously agreed, and Ms Sturgeon will now seek final approval from the Queen.

The appointments were marked during a light-hearted session in the chamber, with opposition leaders taking the chance to get some jokes in at the expense of the new ministers.

Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw was in particularly jocular mood, teasing new transport minister Humza Yousaf and his predecessor Mr Mackay about their dress sense and hairstyles.

He also claimed Mr Ewing had spent the last 24 hours listening to an omnibus of The Archers to prepare himself for the rural affairs brief.

Image caption Jackson Carlaw led for the Conservatives, now Holyrood's second largest party

Labour leader Kezia Dugdale welcomed the gender balance of the cabinet, but gave a more serious speech criticising the SNP's record in government in the previous term.

John Finnie welcomed the new ministers for the Scottish Greens, taking the opportunity to lobby Roseanna Cunningham for a complete ban on fracking, while Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie wished departing cabinet ministers Richard Lochhead and Alex Neil well for the future.

Several opposition politicians underlined the tough task facing Mr Ewing, who takes responsibility for the ongoing problems processing EU farm payments. Ms Sturgeon said getting to grips with the issue would be his "immediate priority".

Ms Sturgeon said John Swinney had been "the best finance secretary in these islands", but said he was the best man to drive forward educational attainment, her top priority for the coming term.

She said: "I think this is a strong team of cabinet secretaries and ministers who are now eager to get on with the job that lies before them."

After unanimously approving the appointments, MSPs also selected five members to the Scottish Parliament's Corporate Body.

Gordon MacDonald of the SNP, Tory Alex Johnstone, Lib Dem Liam McArthur, Labour's David Stewart and Green Andy Wightman were all appointed to the group, which oversees the running and staffing of parliament.

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