SNP depute leader leaves Scottish government to build support for independence
A senior Holyrood minister has left the Scottish government to take on an SNP role dedicated to building the case for independence.
Keith Brown’s exit as Economy Secretary sees him assume the title of campaign director as part of a wider reshuffle of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's top team.
The Clackmannanshire and Dunblane MSP was elected Ms Sturgeon’s deputy at the party’s conference earlier this month, where he told members to "get ready" for a second referendum on leaving the UK.
His new party role will bolster that position, with responsibility for areas normally controlled by the first minister including policy development and preparation for future elections.
Mr Brown will also be supported by a team of MPs and MSPs who will be appointed in the coming days, and report directly to the party leader.
Ms Sturgeon said the change was made so that the Nationalists are "fit and ready for the opportunities that lie ahead", with "no better person" to lead the charge than Mr Brown.
"Keith’s decision to be a dedicated depute leader will enable him to steer the party’s policy development, engage and motivate our expanded membership, get us ready for future elections, and develop the case for independence," she said.
"To ensure we can deliver the best future for Scotland we must be ready for a snap UK election at any time, and we must also begin the hard work of building a policy platform on which to seek the support of the people of Scotland in the next Holyrood election."
The First Minister added: "All of that would be a big enough job, but with more and more people open to the case for independence it is also essential that we focus time, energy and resources on building the arguments for independence and engaging people across the country in discussion about why it is the best future for Scotland."
Mr Brown said the party had to "capitalise" on public anger over Westminster’s failure to win Holyrood backing for the Brexit bill before it passed through parliament earliert this month.
He said: "Over the last few weeks, the public outcry over the Tory power grab has led to a further increase in our party membership and a refreshed debate about independence – and so it has become clear to me that we must capitalise on this moment."