Top Kate Forbes ally challenges official line on why she left government

·2-min read
A key ally of Kate Forbes has questioned the official line on why she chose to leave government <i>(Image: PA)</i>
A key ally of Kate Forbes has questioned the official line on why she chose to leave government (Image: PA)

THE official reason given for Kate Forbes’s exit from government has been challenged by one of her key allies.

Michelle Thomson, who ran the ex-finance secretary’s campaign to become SNP leader, has said it was “odd” the Scottish Government was claiming Forbes had left government because she wanted a better work-life balance.

Deputy first minister Shona Robison previously said Forbes wanted some “time out of the spotlight” for the sake of her family, including her newest child.

It was reported that Forbes had turned down the role of rural affairs secretary – which would have been a demotion from her previous role as finance secretary, one of the Scottish Government’s most powerful positions.

Asked on Times Radio if she believed Robison’s explanation, Thomson said: “Until two o'clock on Monday afternoon Kate Forbes was campaigning hard to be the first minister of Scotland so this kind of immediate conversion into concerns about her work life balance, I find it slightly odd.

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“Now, I would say that I wasn't privy to any private conversations. But knowing her as I do, and her campaigning hard for the top job, that does sound a little odd."

And Thomson hit out at Humza Yousaf’s promise he would heal divisions in the SNP opened up by the bruising five-week leadership contest.

She said it was only “Team Humza” represented at the top table – with Yousaf filling his Cabinet with backers and no Forbes supporters included.

It was also previously reported former business minister Ivan McKee – another prominent Forbes backer – had turned down a job in Yousaf’s government.

Thomson added: “When you look at the people on the backbenches you know, it's going to be interesting how this parliamentary term develops when you've clearly got [...] enormous talent there.

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“You've got Kate Forbes herself. You've also got Ivan McKee, who chose to step down and was also regarded extremely highly around the kind of business and finance and economy team so I'll watch with interest and it's certainly not what it was sold as, as no more Team Humza, Team Kate, or Team Ash. It's quite clearly only Team Humza."

In a tweet published yesterday, Forbes said: “Being appointed to any job in [government] is nothing but a privilege and an honour. I’d never be as impolite about any such offer as has been attributed.”

The Scottish Government was approached for comment.