Ivan McKee hits back at claims he quit because he couldn’t get a Cabinet job

The MSP for Glasgow Provan was at the start of the SNP leadership contest that resulted in a narrow victory for Humza Yousaf, Kate Forbes’ campaign manager, on Monday.

Ms Forbes, who was finance secretary under Nicola Sturgeon, resigned on Tuesday after being offered the less prominent role of secretary for rural affairs.

Despite stressing the need to rebuild the party’s unity after a conflicted leadership contest, Mr Yousaf named only one supporter of Ms Forbes – Siobhain Brown – as part of his 28-strong ministerial team.

CONTINUE READING: Another blow to Yousaf when economy minister leaves government

Former Social Justice Secretary Shona Robison, a close ally of former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, succeeds Ms Forbes as Treasury Secretary and also assumes the role of Deputy First Secretary, while Richard Lochhead becomes Minister for Small Business, Innovation and Trade was appointed.

Mr McKee announced on Wednesday he was stepping down after five years in government and described a sense of frustration that his role in government had not allowed him to make the improvements to the business environment he wanted to achieve.

When asked exactly why he was leaving, he told The Herald: “To be perfectly honest. It is immensely frustrating to talk to companies every day and listen to their problems without being able to actually do anything about it.”

He said he had been offered a similar post as junior minister to his previous post, but with less responsibility, and that the new post was “effectively a smaller job”.

CONTINUE READING: Business groups are raising concerns about Ivan McKee’s departure from government

However, government sources disputed his account, telling journalists that he left because he had not been promoted to cabinet.

Mr McKee, a former successful businessman, today denied that was the case, adding that during the leadership campaign he understood that Mr Yousaf had promised all roles in cabinet roles to people who supported his bid.

“I have made it clear that I am OK to take a position outside of Cabinet – as I understood Humza would have promised them all to supporters during the election campaign.

“I’m not obviously not interested in money or status. Most importantly, if he was serious about changing the relationship with the business and building a strong economy, I needed to be given the tools to get the job done—authority over budgets, my portfolio, and no interference from SPADs [special advisors] or others launching random, unrelated, non-strategic initiatives or policies without my noticing.


First Minister Humza Yousaf with his new Scottish Cabinet. Photo PA.

“Basically, I was content to go ahead and do the work that needed fixing and pleased that he and others were getting the recognition. For some unknown reason, this was unacceptable to him.

“Also of note is that the role offered is definitely smaller – it even has the word small in the title.

“It excludes working with bigger companies and corporations, it excludes the work I have led on civil service reform (to get the best value out of the £700m we spend on civil servants each year) and the Scottish Government’s Buildings and Land Strategy – which I went to DFM.

“It also excludes the work I have done with the industry attracting talent from the rest of the UK. And I’m pretty sure it excludes public sector procurement – making the most of the £14billion we spend annually.

“And it’s not yet clear if that includes digital connectivity and the execution of the digital strategy that I helped write.”

Mr McKee, who is well respected in the business community and was first elected at Holyrood in 2016, was appointed Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise in May 2021. He was previously Minister for Trade, Investment and Innovation.

Before entering politics, he held a number of senior manufacturing and business positions and managed companies in the UK, Poland, Finland, Croatia and Bosnia.

Business groups on Wednesday expressed disappointment at his exit from government.

Meanwhile, the new First Minister chaired his first Cabinet meeting today and vowed to “tackle boldly” the issues Scotland is facing.

The meeting at Bute House in Edinburgh came after a host of new Cabinet Secretaries – Education Secretary Jenny Gilruth, Net Zero and Just Transition Secretary Mairi McAllan, Justice Secretary Angela Constance and Health, Fair Work and Energy Secretary Neil Gray – were at the Court of Session formally sworn.

With the First Minister planning to make a statement to the MSPs after the Easter break, there was “substantive discussion” at the cabinet meeting about the new government’s priorities.

After the cabinet meeting, Mr. Yousaf said he made it clear that he wanted his cabinet to be a forum for open and honest discussion.

He vowed the government would reach out to others, including the business community, opposition leaders and the general public, “in a spirit of genuine cooperation”.

The Scottish Government has been asked to reply to Mr McKee.

https://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/23427739.ivan-mckee-hits-back-claims-quit-didnt-get-cabinet-job/?ref=rss Ivan McKee hits back at claims he quit because he couldn’t get a Cabinet job

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