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Scottish Conservatives announce shadow cabinet reshuffle ‘ready to take the fight to the SNP’

Scottish Conservative MP Douglas Ross
Scottish Conservative MP Douglas Ross

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has announced his new shadow cabinet and vowed his team is “ready to take the fight to the SNP from day one” and “start building Scotland’s real alternative”.

One of the biggest appointments will see Mid Scotland and Fife MSP Murdo Fraser shadow deputy first minister John Swinney in his new, dedicated Covid recovery role.

Mr Swinney was appointed to the job on Tuesday following sustained pressure for him to be dropped as education secretary ahead of Nicola Sturgeon full post-Scottish Parliament election reshuffle.

Things could be off to a fiery start already after Mr Fraser tweeted “repair, re-use, recycle” in response to Ms Sturgeon’s Cabinet announcement on Wednesday, which saw her return many experienced operators to her top team.

Elsewhere Donald Cameron, who was previously on the health brief, has been moved opposite former SNP depute leader Angus Robertson, one of the first minister’s oldest allies, on the constitution, external affairs and culture.

It could be a key appointment as Ms Sturgeon attempts to guide a new referendum bill through the Scottish Parliament this session, even if Westminster hold steadfast against agreeing to a new vote in the wake of the SNP’s election victory.

Meanwhile, Liz Smith becomes finance secretary Kate Forbes opposite number and Oliver Mundell takes over the education portfolio as Jamie Greene moves on to shadow another experienced face in new justice secretary Keith Brown.

North East MSP Liam Kerr, who previously oversaw the justice role, will shadow the beefed up net zero, energy and transport portfolio managed by Michael Matheson, and Annie Wells becomes shadow cabinet secretary for health and social care opposite recently promoted former justice secretary Humza Yousaf.

Previous chief whip Miles Briggs will be opposite number to Dundee MSP Shona Robison, who returned to the Cabinet following a spell on the backbenches to take up the social justice, housing and local government secretary job on Wednesday.

‘FMQs reserve’

Rachael Hamilton becomes shadow cabinet secretary for rural affairs and islands, while Stephen Kerr will take up the role of chief whip and “FMQs reserve”.

The appointment of Mr Kerr, the only other Scottish Tory MSP with Westminster experience, to the enforcer role may prove crucial as 10 out of his 31 Conservative colleagues at Holyrood are new MSPs.

It could also point to issues Mr Ross may face fulfilling all his jobs, as an MSP, MP and professional football referee.

Douglas Ross.

Announcing his new team, the Scottish Conservative leader said: “Against the odds, the Scottish Conservatives produced our best Holyrood election result ever, winning 31 seats and 100,000 more votes than before.

“Our new team of MSPs is determined to improve the lives of people all over the country by focusing 100% on Scotland’s recovery and tackling the health and economic crisis we face.

“Our shadow cabinet will work constructively with other parties to get things done but we are equally ready to be a strong opposition and take the fight to the SNP from day one.

“They will drive forward at least 15 bills over the course of this parliamentary term as we start on the road to building Scotland’s real alternative to the SNP.”

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