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Fiona Hyslop announced as the transport minister as the portfolio is raised to a cabinet level brief under Mairi MacAllan

By Scott Maclennan

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Mairi Macallan (left) and Fiona Hyslop.
Mairi Macallan (left) and Fiona Hyslop.

The Scottish Government has made two significant announcements about the transport portfolio. The first is that Fiona Hyslop – subject to parliamentary approval – has been made new transport minister.

The second is that the portfolio has been restored to a cabinet level position as part of Màiri McAllan’s brief and she will become the cabinet secretary for transport, net zero and just transition.

The move will see Ms McAllan take a greater day-to-day role in Scotland’s mounting transport woes with the aim of ending the A9 log-jam and unprecedented anger and frustration over the ferry services in the west of the country.

The government has been lurching from crisis to crisis over the A9 and A96 dualling delays while ferries remain an open sore for those who depend on what are lifeline services for the islands.

Matters got worse last week when the transport minister Kevin Stewart resigned citing declining mental health forcing First Minister Humza Yousaf to make some significant changes.

First he has brought an experienced hand back as a junior minister in Ms Hyslop who has held a number of roles in government over the years, including economy minister after Derek Mackay’s resignation.

He then changed Ms MacAllan’s portfolio, moving the green economy to Richard Lochhead, who becomes the minister for small business, trade, innovation and tourism to free Ms McAllan to take on a greater role in transport.

The range of experience Ms Hyslop brings to the role extends across the era of the Scottish Parliament, having held multiple ministerial roles, including responsibility for the economy.

The First Minster has also changed Gillian Martin’s role adding responsibilities to her remit and changing her title to minister for energy and the environment.

Mr Yousaf said: “I am pleased to announce that I am strengthening the ministerial team on transport.

“I have taken two steps: first, by changing Màiri McAllan’s remit, I am freeing her to take a direct day-to-day role in transport, effectively bringing transport explicitly back into cabinet.

“Second, I am bringing one of the most experienced politicians in the Scottish Parliament – Fiona Hyslop – into the role of Minister for Transport. Her return to government means she can bring her decades of experience across government to bear on the challenges that exist, not least around ferry services.

“Finally, I am using this opportunity to also bring some extra support to the rural portfolio by expanding Gillian Martin’s role, and ensuring that Richard Lochhead’s title reflects his responsibilities supporting business across Scotland.”

He added: “This will ensure that the significant policy plans of this Government can be pursued with vigour.”

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