Borders-based MSP given new job in Scottish Government reshuffle

South Scotland SNP list MSP Paul Wheelhouse.
South Scotland SNP list MSP Paul Wheelhouse.

Borders-based Scottish National Party list MSP Paul Wheelhouse has been handed a new job as part of this week’s Holyrood reshuffle.

The former business, energy and innovation minister will take on the new role of minister for energy, connectivity and the islands as Scottish Government First Minister Nicola Sturgeon makes changes to her cabinet and ministerial teams.

His boss will be new transport, infrastructure and connectivity secretary Michael Matheson.

“I’m delighted to now serve as minister for energy, connectivity and the islands and to be reunited with Michael Matheson as cabinet secretary,” said the 48-year-old, of Ayton in Berwickshire.

Jamie Hepburn will take over part of Mr Wheelhouse’s old brief, becoming minister for business, fair work and skills.

Northern Ireland-born Mr Wheelhouse has been a regional list MP since May 2011, though he did stand unsuccessfully for the Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire constituency seat in 2016, losing out to John Lamont, now MP for Berwickshire, Roxburgh and Selkirk.

When not at Holyrood, he is based at an office in Hawick’s Sandbed.

More ministerial appointments are expected to be announced today, June 27.

Five Scottish ministers have been promoted as part of the reshuffle, including Jeane Freeman to the post of health secretary and Humza Yousaf to justice secretary.

Ms Freeman, previously social security minister, takes over from Shona Robison following the Dundee City East MSP’s resignation.

Mr Yousaf, transport minister since 2016, takes over from Mr Matheson.

Brexit minister Michael Russell, further education minister Shirley-Anne Somerville and health minister Aileen Campbell have also been given cabinet roles.

Derek Mackay retains his finance portfolio, with added responsibility for the economy following economy secretary Keith Brown’s departure.

Fergus Ewing will continue as rural economy secretary.

John Swinney, Roseanna Cunningham and Fiona Hyslop retain their current roles with responsibility for education, the environment and culture respectively.

Ms Sturgeon said: “The new cabinet I am announcing brings fresh talent to the Scottish Government and ensures that we are fully equipped to meet the challenges and opportunities facing the country in the months and years ahead.

“With the impact of Brexit on our economy and wider society, it is right that the issues it presents are fully reflected at cabinet level, while the delivery of a new Scottish social security system also requires a voice at the cabinet table.

“I will shortly be appointing a fully refreshed junior ministerial team, which will also include a number of fresh faces and a wealth of new talent.”