Humza Yousaf makes more history while Wales plans tourist ‘bed tax’

Beyond England Daily news

Humza Yousaf has created more history by appointing the first female dominated cabinet to rule Scotland.

Yousaf narrowly beat Kate Forbes in the SNP election to succeed Nicola Sturgeon as party leader – becoming the first first minister from a minority-ethnic background to lead a UK devolved parliament.

In his acceptance speech to the Scottish parliament on Tuesday (March 28), Yousaf said he was honoured to become the first Muslim leader of a Western country.

Vanquished Forbes declined Yousaf’s offer of the rural affairs and islands portfolio, seen by many as a demotion for former finance secretary Forbes who won 48% of SNP members’ votes to Yousaf’s 52% n the leadership election. Forbes will instead be a looming presence on the backbenches as Yousaf’s era begins.

The new first minister was officially sworn in at Edinburgh’s court of session on Wednesday and unveiled his ten-strong cabinet, saying it reflects “the priorities that we will pursue as a government – including tackling child poverty, improving public services and building a fairer, greener economy”.

Yousaf – Scotland’s sixth first minister since the post was established by devolution in 1999 – has given the new deputy first minister Shona Robinson the finance brief.

Jenny Gilruth moves from transport secretary to take over education. Angela Constance is the new justice and home affairs secretary. Yousaf has made Mairi McAllan the second youngest ever member of a Scottish cabinet, giving her the net zero and just transition brief. (McAllan is 30, slightly older than Forbes was when she took over finance aged 29).

Shirley-Anne Sommerville is the new social justice secretary while Mairi Gougeon stays as rural affairs, land reform and islands secretary – the position reportedly offered to Forbes.

The new secretary for wellbeing economy, fair work and energy is Neil Gray, Yousaf’s campaign manager for his successful leadership bid. Michael Matheson takes over from Yousaf as health secretary while Angus Robertson becomes constitution, external affairs and culture secretary.

Commenting on his appointments, Yousaf said: “As well as being the first ever First Minister from a minority ethnic background, I am pleased that a record number of women have agreed to serve, as well as a significant blend of younger and more experienced members.

“That said, every single appointment has been made on merit.”

Meanwhile, the Welsh government will press ahead with plans to charge tourists a visitor levy for countryside accommodation, the Guardian reports.

Toruism origanisations have hit out against the “bed tax”, arguing it will discourage people from staying in Wales.

“Business balance sheets have been decimated by Covid and the energy, cost of living crises and labour market issues,” said the Wales Tourism Alliance.

“This is the wrong time to risk any form of further taxation or negativity around the sector that will affect consumer confidence.”

The government argues their plans for a levy match similar taxes in more than 40 destinations, including Amsterdam, Catalonia and Greece.

Plaid Cymru supports the Welsh Labour government’s policy with Cefin Campbell, a Plaid Cymru Senedd member commented: “Our aim is to develop responsible tourism that works both for visitors and for the communities they are visiting. Local authorities will be able to introduce a small contribution from visitors enjoying their area to help develop and protect local services and infrastructure.”

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