Ex SNP cabinet minister demands rule change after Keith Brown sacking
A FORMER Cabinet Secretary has called for the SNP’s rules to be changes so that Humza Yousaf’s sacking of Keith Brown can never be repeated.
Alex Neil said he was “sorry” that Mr Brown had been turfed out of the justice secretary’s role, despite being the SNP’s depute leader.
He said it should be automatic that the party’s deputy leader was also the deputy First Minister.
Mr Brown was elected SNP deputy in 2018 with a greater mandate than Mr Yousaf achieved in the SNP leadership contest, getting 55 per cent of the vote to Mr Yousaf’s 52%.
However he was one of the highest profile casualties when the First Minister chose his debut cabinet yesterday, when he was sacked and replaced by Angela Constance.
His exit added to the sense of disunity in the party, which is trying to come back together after a bitter leadership contest between Mr Yousaf, Kate Forbes and Ash Regan.
Ms Forbes quit the government on Tuesday after being offered a demotion from finance to rural affairs, while Ash Regan, who quit the government last year over gender reforms, wasn’t offered anything in Mr Yousaf’s reshuffle.
Mr Neil told the Herald: “I am sorry that Keith has been sacked especially as he’s the deputy leader of the party elected by the members.
“The party rules should be changed to make it compulsory for the deputy leader if an MSP to be automatically appointed as the deputy first minister.”
Such a rule change would effectively require the party deputy to be an MSP.
In the past, some MPs have filled the role, including Stewart Hoise and Angus Robertson.
Mr Yousaf was restrained in his praise for Mr Brown after sacking him on Wednesday.
He said it was it was “inevitable” that some people had to move on.
However he was more fulsome today, as he opened a debate on the appointment of his new ministers.
He said Mr Brown had been a “key figure in the SNP government over many many years”.
He said: “Amongst his notable achievements, he had been a champion of ther fair work agenda, and has also worked hard to support and reassure businesses in the wake of the Brexit referendum.
“His work in the upcoming Criminal Justice Reform Bill will see a sea change in the support available for the victims of crime.
“I also want to highlight his admirable work on behalf of veterans of our armed services and indeed their families.”
Mr Yousaf also paid tribute to Ms Forbes, and said he was sorry she was not in the government “for now”, but was sure she would return.
Mr Yousaf also said Mr McKee had worked tirelessly to make Scotland a better place to work and invest.