Kate Forbes made Deputy First Minister as John Swinney appoints Scottish Cabinet

It came hours after Mr Swinney was officially sworn in as Scotland’s First Minister.

Kate Forbesis now Scotland’s Deputy First Minister
Kate Forbesis now Scotland’s Deputy First Minister (Jane Barlow/PA)

Kate Forbes has been appointed as John Swinney’s Deputy First Minister as the SNP leader assembles his Cabinet.

Ms Forbes had challenged Humza Yousaf for the SNP leadership last year but opted not to stand against Mr Swinney, who had promised her a “significant” role in his Government.

Mr Swinney put party unity at the heart of his pitch to succeed Mr Yousaf as SNP leader.

Former finance minister Ms Forbes was the first to arrive at Mr Swinney’s official residence in Edinburgh on Wednesday as he put together his top table.

John Swinney is appointing his new Cabinet
John Swinney is appointing his new Cabinet (Andrew Milligan/PA)

In a statement, Ms Forbes said: “I am deeply honoured to accept John’s invitation to be his Deputy First Minister.

“This is a moment of extraordinary privilege for me. Having previously served in Cabinet, I know the duty that all ministers have to reflect the Government’s priorities and the missions that drive them.

“I look forward to working with John and Cabinet colleagues, delivering for the people of Scotland and building a better country.”

She succeeds Shona Robison as Deputy First Minister, who is moving to another role in Government.

The full list of Cabinet responsibilities is expected to be confirmed later on Wednesday.

Shona Robison arrives at Bute House
Shona Robison arrives at Bute House (Jane Barlow/PA)

Mr Swinney said: “I am very pleased to appoint Kate as Deputy First Minister and look forward to working with her in this new Government.

“She is an immensely talented politician, and her new role will prove critical as we focus on our key commitments of eradicating child poverty, investing in public services and supporting economic growth.”

Following the announcement, Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie said Mr Swinney must not water down the policies pursued by his party when it was in government.

He said: “There will be many people across our country who will be very concerned and who will want to know that this Scottish Government remains committed to a greener and more equal future for Scotland.

“When it comes to delivering fairer and more progressive taxation, a just transition from oil and gas and a watertight ban on so-called conversion therapy, it is vital that this Government does not dilute the longstanding commitments that it has made.”

Mr Harvie also posted a picture of a “no right turn” sign on social media – an apparent warning for the new Government not to shift its policies to the right.

As well as Ms Forbes, those seen entering Bute House for the Cabinet appointments include Wellbeing Economy, Energy and Net Zero Secretary Mairi McAllan, Transport Secretary Fiona Hyslop and Health Secretary Neil Gray.

Earlier, Mr Swinney was questioned on what role he planned to give Ms Forbes, but would say only that he is “a man of my word” – referring to his speech last week where he said he wanted her to have a “significant role” in his team.

He also said being sworn in as Scotland’s new First Minister was an “overwhelming moment”.

John Swinney, left, took the oath while his family watched on
John Swinney, left, took the oath while his family watched on (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Scotland’s most senior judge, Lord President Lord Carloway, presided over the ceremony at the Court of Session in Edinburgh on Wednesday morning where Mr Swinney made his statutory declarations and was granted his official title of First Minister and Keeper of the Scottish Seal.

Mr Swinney raised his right hand and bowed his head as Lord Carloway read the three oaths of office – for the role of First Minister, the Keeper of the Great Seal and the oath of allegiance to the King.

The Lord President then addressed the court about the independence of the judiciary.

Mr Swinney’s family, including his wife Elizabeth, brother David and 13-year-old son Matthew, accompanied him to court.

John Swinney with his wife Elizabeth Quigley and son Matthew,13
John Swinney with his wife Elizabeth Quigley and son Matthew,13 (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Speaking to reporters after the ceremony, the Perthshire North MSP said: “It’s a really overwhelming moment to take the oath of office in front of the Lord President of the Court of Session and formally assume the role of First Minister,” he said.

“I look forward to dedicating my future to serving the people of Scotland.

“It’s an extraordinary opportunity to change lives for the better and I’ll continue to use every moment that’s available to me to do so.”

He added: “For my family this is a very abrupt change of our circumstances. We didn’t think this would happening about 10 days ago.”

He said they are making plans to adapt and it had been “very precious” to have his family at his side at the swearing in ceremony.