September 28. 2023. 7:03

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Humza Yousaf sworn in as Scotland’s first minister ahead of appointing Cabinet

Humza Yousaf has been sworn in as the first minister of Scotland at the Court of Session, and he will now start appointing his Cabinet.

He won the Scottish National Party (SNP) leadership election on Monday, was elected first minister on Tuesday, and the administering of the three oaths of office at the court on Wednesday made his appointment official.

In the customary ceremony at the highest court in Scotland, Mr Yousaf pledged his allegiance to the King, as well as to serve him in the role as first minister and keeper of the seal of Scotland.

His family watched on from the public gallery, and he was flanked by Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain KC.


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The oath was administered by Lord Carloway, the Lord President, who heads up the judiciary in Scotland.

[ Humza Yousaf’s most pressing challenge is to hold off an expected Labour Party surge ]

Lord Carloway told the new first minister a “successful democratic system” must be governed by the rule of law and can only exist “if the government affords adequate protection to the judiciary from unwarranted attack”.

Mr Yousaf will spend the rest of Wednesday appointing his Cabinet, with his chosen ministers set to visit his official residence at Bute House throughout the day before an announcement later in the afternoon.

So far, education secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville, Ukraine minister Neil Gray and net zero secretary Michael Matheson have been seen entering the official residence, but it is not yet clear if they will be moving positions.

Constitution secretary Angus Robertson, rural affairs secretary Mairi Gougeon and drugs minister Angela Constance were also seen entering Bute House, but none gave an indication of where they may go.

One of the people who will not feature in his top table is his leadership rival Kate Forbes, who turned down the post of rural affairs – seen by many as a demotion from her finance brief – in favour of a return to the backbenches.

The move has endangered Mr Yousaf’s attempts to bring together a party which has felt the full impact of a bruising leadership contest, which he won with a slim 52 per cent to 48 per cent margin over Ms Forbes.

But Mr Yousaf’s newly appointed deputy said Ms Forbes’s decision was based on wanting to get “out of the spotlight” after recently having a baby.

She was on maternity leave when Nicola Sturgeon announced she would resign and throughout the leadership campaign, planning to return in the coming weeks.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, Ms Robison said: “I understand that the discussion was very cordial and was very much centred on what Kate’s thoughts were, and I think she had reflected upon how hard the campaign had been for family life and her desire for a better work-life balance and she decided that time out of the spotlight would be best to spend time with her family, which is understandable.”

The first minister did consider Ms Forbes for other positions, Ms Robison said, but ultimately she made the decision to go to the backbenches.

Ms Robison said during the leadership race she would have to consider whether she would want to serve under Ms Forbes, had she won the top job.

But she praised the former finance secretary, saying she has “great talents” and hopes she will consider a return to the frontbench.

According to Ms Robison, the new top team will be different from that of Mr Yousaf’s predecessor.

“I think what you’ll see is a Cabinet that looks quite different and feels quite different,” she said.

She rejected the assertion that means the Cabinet will lack frontline political experience, saying: “It will be a mix of the many skills and talents that the SNP parliamentary group has.”

Ms Robison herself is likely to be given a Cabinet portfolio alongside her role as deputy first minister, as has been customary since the SNP took power, but she said she will not accept moving back to health – where she spent around three-and-a-half years.

“It’s not a role I would take on again,” she said.

“But I’ve been in government for many years… nearly 16 years in government, and I would want to bring that experience I’ve had in many roles to support the first minister and to get down to business of the priorities that Humza Yousaf has laid out.” — PA

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