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Highland MSP Fergus Ewing speaks of privilege serving Scottish Government in departure letter to First Minister as Nicola Sturgeon reshuffles cabinet

By Gavin Musgrove

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Fergus Ewing gives his acceptance speech after his recent re-election for a sixth term as MSP. Picture: James Mackenzie
Fergus Ewing gives his acceptance speech after his recent re-election for a sixth term as MSP. Picture: James Mackenzie

Veteran MSP Fergus Ewing said he has been struck by the incredible spirit and fortitude of tourism operators during the Covid-19 pandemic in his letter to the First Minister confirming his departure from top office.

Mr Ewing accepted the decision with good grace after Nicola Sturgeon had earlier indicated to him there would be no place for him in the reshuffled Scottish Government cabinet unveiled earlier today.

He said too that he was proud of his track record during his time in the top ranks of government.

One of his main achievements, he said, was securing funding to bolster the winter sports industry and for the repair of the Cairngorm funicular.

Mr Ewing has acquired extensive contacts in fishing, farming, tourism and hospitality during his time as Minister and a deep knowledge of the issues.

In his correspondence submitted to the First Minister yesterday, he offered his support in every way to her and the Scottish Government from the backbenches.

The Inverness and Nairn MSP stated: "It has been a privilege to serve as a Minister in the Scottish Government since 2007 and especially as Cabinet Secretary in your Government for the past five years.

"For that I express my sincere thanks.

"In our discussion yesterday, you indicated that you will form a slimmed down cabinet. Obviously, you have had to make some tough decisions and we agreed that this meant I should now step out of Government.

"Over the past five years, I have striven to improve and support life and work in the rural economy – in farming, fishing, forestry, aquaculture and field sports, and also whilst working with HIE and latterly SOSE (South of Scotland Enterprise) promote economic development.

"I believe that many good things and successes have been secured and delivered over these years, and that we have won the trust and confidence of many of the people who play major leadership roles in each of the main sectors of the rural economy.

"My firm view is Scotland succeeds when the public and private sector work closely as a team including in forming policy as well as delivery and implementation.

"Over the past year as your Minister for Tourism I have tried to help both people and businesses survive the greatest crisis they have encountered, and have been struck by the incredible spirit and fortitude of so many, despite their suffering hugely in financial and personal terms.

"In all of my work first as Minister and then Cabinet Secretary over these 14 years, I have sought to provide leadership and have received excellent support from the overwhelming majority of public servants, for which I am truly grateful.

"I will, of course, continue to carry out my role as constituency MSP for Inverness and Nairn to the best of my ability, representing all my constituents irrespective of party politics, and in addition, from the backbenches, work to support you and the Scottish Government in every way that I can."

Mr Ewing served as Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy in the last Scottish Government.

He has been an MSP since 1999 - first for Inverness East, Nairn and Lochaber from 1999 to 2011, and then for Inverness and Nairn - including Strathspey - since 2011.

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