SCOTTISH Conservatives leader Jackson Carlaw has reshuffled his frontbench team, with leadership rival Michelle Ballantyne axed from her post.

Carlaw, who won the leadership election to succeed Ruth Davidson last week, has pledged the Scottish Tories will “change further and for the better”, with a “new and reinvigorated team at Holyrood”.

Donald Cameron has been promoted from Europe and external affairs spokesman to become finance spokesman, shadowing the SNP’s new appointee Kate Forbes and replacing Murdo Fraser.

Adam Tomkins, a constitutional law expert, has been replaced as the party’s constitution spokesman in favour of Fraser, while Liz Smith has been dropped from the education portfolio and replaced by Jamie Greene. The latter move could signal a policy change on university tuition fees which Smith supported but is believed to be under review by the party.

The National: Jamie GreeneJamie Greene

Tomkins has been appointed to a newly created “strategy” post, with Smith becoming the party’s chief whip. Ballantyne, who won 1,581 votes to Carlaw’s 4,917 in the leadership contest, has lost her social security brief – which also covers housing and communities – to Graham Simpson.

In the first few hours after his victory, Carlaw announced Glasgow MSP Annie Wells will be joint deputy leader alongside Carlaw’s campaign manager Liam Kerr, who has been in the role since September.

Wells will take on the environment, climate change, land reform and COP26 brief, while Kerr will be justice spokesman.

The National: Annie WellsAnnie Wells

Rachael Hamilton, the Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire MSP, becomes party chairwoman, working jointly with existing chairman Rab Forman, and has also now been named spokeswoman on the rural economy.

The latest reshuffle – which leaves the junior posts still to be filled – also includes Maurice Golden becoming economy and culture spokesman, replacing Dean Lockhart who moves to the business and transport brief. Miles Briggs remains the party’s health spokesman.

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Commenting on the changes, Carlaw said: “This is a brand new shadow Cabinet designed to take on the SNP leading up to May 2021 and take the Scottish Conservatives into Government after it.

“We’ve got the best people fighting in the best places and they’re going to bring us on to the next level.

“I said during the leadership campaign that I wanted to press the positive case for the union across all areas of political debate, and that’s exactly what Murdo Fraser – one of Holyrood’s most senior and respected MSPs – will be doing. I also promised to prioritise areas like housing – such a critical area for young people across the country – which is why I’ve included that role within the shadow Cabinet.”

He added: “It’s simply not enough for us to be a strong and effective opposition anymore. We need to prove to the people of Scotland that we’re a Government in waiting and that’s exactly what I intend to do over the next 15 months.

“The SNP has failed to put Scotland’s best interests first and has overseen a deterioration in almost every area in which it has responsibility. That includes an education system in crisis, a health service which is on its knees and an economy which lags badly behind the rest of the UK.”