Holyrood rubber stamped Nicola Sturgeon’s refreshed government despite an attempt by Lib Dems to block a key minister’s appointment.
The party argued Angus Robertson’s role would undermine the focus on covid recovery.
The former Moray MP, who is now at Holyrood representing Edinburgh Central, was given a senior job as cabinet secretary for the constitution, external affairs and culture.
Liberal Democrat Alex Cole Hamilton said the job exists only to “advance the cause of independence”.
At Holyrood on Thursday, he said: “This country faces big, important questions over the coming years, on mental health, the drug deaths emergency, climate change and waiting times.
“For Liberal Democrats the answer to none of those lie in tired old arguments about currency and about borders. As such we believe that there should not be one minute of either ministerial or civil service time afforded to such a portfolio.”
The Lib Dems, reduced to just four MSPs at the election on May 6, failed to win over other opposition parties.
However, Labour and Conservatives put the SNP on notice that parliament must focus on rebuilding from the health crisis.
Labour leader Anas Sarwar said he “takes the point” about the objection, but added: “My party has less of an issue about a ministerial title and more with how the government behave.
“We will be holding the government to their promise of focussing on recovery.
“There are issues we need to discuss, on Brexit and the wider impact of that.”
‘No more honeymoon’
Conservative MSP Jackson Carlaw offered a light-hearted welcome to the new ministers but point them on notice for political turbulence ahead.
“After 14 years, there can be no more honeymoon. We are entitled to expect focus and delivery. We’ll work with ministers where and when we can and oppose rigorously and robustly where we have to.”
Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said the constitution role is important.
“I hope Angus Robertson will advance the case for a referendum, and Greens will work towards that goal as well,” he said.
The Lib Dem attempt to block the appointments was defeated by 70 votes to four, with 51 abstentions.
‘Not just about independence’
Sturgeon said the role of Constitution Secretary is not new, adding: “The constitution is not just about independence, it is about making sure Scotland’s voice is heard in the face of the damaging implications of Brexit and it’s about making sure that Scotland is defended in the face of the Tory power-grab in this Parliament and this Government.
“Independence, and – after Covid has passed – giving the people of Scotland the opportunity to choose independence if that is their wish, is the policy of the Government I lead.
“The Liberal Democrats may disagree with that, that is their right, but that doesn’t change that fact.”