Fergus Ewing and Fiona Hyslop have left their posts in the Cabinet, it has been announced.
Mr Ewing had been rural economy and tourism secretary in the last government, and Ms Hyslop served as secretary for economy, fair work and culture.
The departure of the two long-serving Cabinet members mean half of the posts in Nicola Sturgeon’s top team are vacant, as she embarks on a major post-election reshuffle.
Ms Sturgeon also has to find successors for several members of her top team who have retired, including Health Secretary Jeane Freeman, Constitution Secretary Michael Russell, Communities Secretary Aileen Campbell, and Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney has already been moved from the education secretary brief, becoming the Cabinet secretary for Covid recovery.
I want to offer my sincere thanks to Fiona and Fergus for their service, and wish them well as they continue to serve their constituents in the new parliament.”
Ms Sturgeon said: “I want to pay tribute to the work of both Fiona Hyslop and Fergus Ewing and to thank them for their unstinting public service over many years.
“Fiona has served in Cabinet since 2007, firstly as education secretary, then as culture and external affairs secretary before taking on the economy and fair work portfolio.
“Her tenure in the external affairs brief saw Fiona oversee the expansion of the Scottish Government’s international footprint, giving our country a higher profile than it has ever had before on the global stage, and that is a legacy which she can and should be justly proud of.
“Fergus has also been part of the ministerial team since 2007, and has brought diligence and endeavour to all of the jobs he has held.
“In particular, he has worked tirelessly with and on behalf of Scotland’s rural sector over the past five years since the Brexit vote, fighting their corner at every turn.
“Fergus has been a champion for Scotland’s farmers and crofters during one of the most difficult, challenging and uncertain periods our agricultural sector has ever faced, and he has the gratitude of many in the industry for his efforts to protect their interests.
“I want to offer my sincere thanks to Fiona and Fergus for their service, and wish them well as they continue to serve their constituents in the new parliament.”
Former SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson, who became the Edinburgh Central MSP earlier this month, has been tipped for a top job.
Finance Secretary Kate Forbes and Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf are also expected to remain in the Cabinet.
We previously had a look at some of Ms Sturgeon’s reshuffle options.
Fiona Hyslop and Fergus Ewing stepping down from government posts – that’s half of Nicola Sturgeon’s cabinet from last term gone now, with Jeane Freeman, Mike Russell, Roseanna Cunningham and Aileen Campbell leaving Holyrood entirely. Going to be a very new look team…
— Philip Sim (@BBCPhilipSim) May 19, 2021
Mr Ewing, who was re-elected as MSP for Inverness and Nairn this month, has served as a minister since the SNP took power in 2007, joining the Cabinet in 2016.
Ms Hyslop, the Linlithgow MSP, served as education secretary under Alex Salmond, later being appointed to the Cabinet culture brief, which she has held since 2011.