Shona Robison takes on biggest role yet after almost 25 years at Holyrood

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After almost a quarter of a century in the Scottish Parliament, Shona Robison is taking on her biggest role yet, having been appointed as Scotland’s new Deputy First Minister.

Humza Yousaf announced her appointment almost immediately after winning the vote in Holyrood to become Scotland’s sixth First Minister – with his new deputy also becoming Finance Secretary and taking on responsibility for the Scottish budget.

It comes after Ms Robison successfully steered controversial reforms to the gender recognition process for trans people though Holyrood, with the legislation, passed by Holyrood just before Christmas, aiming to both speed up and simplify the process.

While that legislation has been blocked by Westminster, Mr Yousaf has vowed to challenge this decision, going to court to do so if necessary.

Ms Robison’s appointment to the key Deputy First Minister role may be seen by some as an indication of the importance the new First Minister attaches to protecting the rights of minorities.

The MSP for Dundee City East has been part of the Scottish Parliament since it was established, having represented the North East of Scotland region for the SNP between 1999 and 2003, before winning her constituency seat.

She is also a close friend and ally of former first minister Nicola Sturgeon, with the two women having met when they were both in the youth wing of the SNP.

When the SNP first came to power in 2007, she was appointed minister for public health and sport – a role which saw her play a key part in overseeing the preparations for the Glasgow Commonwealth Games in 2014.

In April of that year, then first minister Alex Salmond promoted her to the Cabinet as secretary for Commonwealth Games, sport, equalities and pensioners’ rights.

Nicola Sturgeon and Shona Robison
Shona Robison, right, is a close friend of Nicola Sturgeon (PA)

But Ms Robison said that role had been “at times very challenging” when she quit the Cabinet in June 2018.

As health secretary, she had come under fire from opposition politicians over her failure to meet key NHS waiting times, while financial difficulties experienced by NHS Tayside, which covers her constituency area, also led to calls for her to quit.

However, a reshuffle after the 2021 Scottish election saw her rejoin the Cabinet, this time taking on responsibility for social justice, housing and local government.

She was married to SNP MP Stewart Hosie but the couple split in 2016 amid reports he had an affair.

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