Yousaf shuffles cabinet after Matheson resigns

Scottish cabinet secretary for NHS recovery, health and social care Michael Matheson has handed in his resignation to the first minister.

Matheson joined the Scottish Government in 2011 as minister for public health. He was appointed cabinet secretary for justice in 2014, cabinet secretary for transport, infrastructure and connectivity in 2018, cabinet secretary for net zero, energy and transport in 2021, before being appointed as cabinet secretary for NHS recovery, health and social care in March 2023.

In his resignation letter, he cited the ongoing review into his data roaming charges. He said: "Having requested that the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body review my data roaming charges from last year, I am conscious that this process will conclude in the coming weeks. I have still not received the findings of their review, however, it is in the best interest of myself and the Government for me to now step down to ensure this does not become a distraction to taking forward the Government’s agenda.

"Throughout my time in office, I have been supported by dedicated civil servants without whom it would be impossible to do my job. I would like to thank them for their guidance and support during my time in Government.

"I am enormously grateful to you for appointing me as Health Secretary and for the support that you have given me throughout the last year, it has meant a great deal to both me and my family. Thank you.

First minister Humza Yousaf accepted the resignation and thanked Matheson for his achievements in government.

He said: "It is with sadness that I accept your resignation from the role of Cabinet Secretary for NHS Recovery, Health, and Sport.

"It is right that, having requested that the Scottish Parliament Corporate Body review your data roaming charges from last year, that you fully engage with that process as it comes to its conclusion.

"I agree that it is therefore best for you to now step down to ensure you are able to give the Parliamentary process the attention it deserves without it becoming a distraction to taking forward the Government's agenda."

Neil Gray has been appointed as Matheson's replacement. Gray had served as the wellbeing economy, fair work and energy secretary since last March.

Màiri McAllan has been appointed cabinet secretary for wellbeing economy, net zero and energy.

Transport has become a standalone portfolio at Cabinet level, with Fiona Hyslop as cabinet secretary.

The cabinet of ten includes seven women, which is believed to be the highest proportion of any government in the world.

Kaukab Stewart has taken on the role of Minister for Culture, Europe and International Development, in place of Christina McKelvie, who has been appointed as Minister for Drugs and Alcohol Policy. Stewart is the first Woman of Colour to enter the Scottish Government.

Jim Fairlie is joining government as minister for agriculture and connectivity.

Parliament will be asked to approve the new appointments of Fiona Hyslop, Kaukab Stewart and Jim Fairlie after recess.

Yousaf said: “These new appointments reflect this government’s priorities and the missions that drive them – equality, opportunity and community – and I look forward to working with them as we continue to deliver for the people of Scotland."

Image: Scottish Government, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

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