Keith Brown named new Scottish transport minister

keith brown Keith Brown has been named as the new transport minister

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Keith Brown has been named as the new Scottish transport minister following the resignation of Stewart Stevenson.

Mr Stevenson quit his post on Saturday over the way he handled the chaos caused by last week's severe weather.

The heavy snowfall, which started during the rush hour on Monday morning, caused gridlock on Scotland's roads, with thousands stuck overnight.

Backbencher Angela Constance will take over Mr Brown's current post as minister for skills.

Mr Brown, the SNP MSP for Ochil, said: "I have enjoyed making a positive contribution to Scotland's education system as minister for skills and lifelong learning, including the introduction of the curriculum for excellence, and I am looking forward to taking on the job of minister for transport and infrastructure, with all the challenges that involves."

First Minister Alex Salmond said: "Keith Brown has been an excellent minister for skills and lifelong learning, and has all of the qualities needed to help meet the unprecedented challenges thrown up by the recent severe winter weather, as well as preparing for future challenges."

Mr Stevenson, the MSP for Banff and Buchan, had apologised to parliament on Wednesday over his handling of the crisis.

Analysis

Not since John Reid allegedly greeted a new role in Cabinet with "Oh f . . ., not health!" can a ministerial appointment have been such an overt challenge to the lucky winner.

Last week's snow closed the airports, clogged the roads and railways - and, ultimately, ended a ministerial career.

Keith Brown has been seen as an effective operator in his previous post as schools minister.

He has been resolute, declining to flap in the face of substantial opposition pressure and troublesome statistics.

Good training for the new task.

He took the decision to leave the Scottish government, saying he deeply regretted not doing more to better inform members of the public who became caught up in a "difficult and frightening set of circumstances".

Mr Stevenson had initially claimed there had been a "first class" response to the problems.

Ms Constance's promotion from the backbenches requires parliamentary approval.

The MSP for Livingston said: "I am delighted to be proposed as the new minister for skills and lifelong learning, and I hope to build on the good work done by Keith in his time in the job.

"It is an honour to be nominated as a minister and I look forward to joining front-bench colleagues in taking forward the work of the Scottish government."

Mr Brown, a former Marine who served in the Falklands, has been an MSP since 2007.

He served for 11 years as a councillor in Clackmannanshire and led the local authority from 1999 to 2003.

Ms Constance, who was also elected to Holyrood in 2007, is a former social worker and mental health officer.

Responsibility for climate change, which was part of the transport brief, will be added to the portfolio of Environment Minister Roseanna Cunningham.

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