KATE Forbes is one of three potential candidates who could be announced as Nicola Sturgeon’s successor on Monday afternoon.

Following a few weeks of campaigning, hustings and live TV debates, the Scottish Finance Secretary could become the youngest ever SNP leader.

So who is Kate Forbes and what has she said over the course of her leadership campaign?

READ MORE: Kate Forbes's answers to key questions 'difficult to parse'

Before politics

The National: Kate Forbes worked for Barclays before entering politicsKate Forbes worked for Barclays before entering politics

Prior to becoming a politician, Forbes studied history at Cambridge before completing an MSc in diaspora and migration history at the University of Edinburgh.

She was born in Dingwall and spent part of her childhood in India. Forbes would go on to become an accountant and later worked for Barclays.

When she was in Scotland she attended a Gaelic school where she became fluent in the language.

Becoming an MSP

The National: Kate Forbes became an MSP in 2016Kate Forbes became an MSP in 2016

Forbes became the MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch at the 2016 Holyrood election, having previously worked for former MSP Dave Thompson in the same constituency.

In 2018, she was promoted to the junior position of minister of public finance and her rapid rise continued when she was announced as Scotland’s first female Finance Secretary when Derek Mackay resigned in disgrace.

In 2020, she became the first woman to deliver the Scottish budget.

She holds a comfortable majority in her Highland constituency of 15,000.

Maternity leave

The National: Kate Forbes gave birth to her daughter Naomi in August last yearKate Forbes gave birth to her daughter Naomi in August last year

In July 2022, the now 32-year-old went on maternity leave to have her first child, being the first Scottish Cabinet secretary to do so.

She announced in August last year, along with her husband Ali Maclennan, that their daughter Naomi was safely delivered at Raigmore Hospital in Inverness.

Arriving on Thursday, August 4, Naomi was born weighing seven pounds and 13 ounces.

How does she plan to win independence?

Forbes has outlined her views on a number of key issues facing Scotland over the past few weeks from independence to the A9.

On securing independence, Forbes told The National about her plan to use the next Westminster election to win a mandate in order to demand within three months the powers to hold a referendum if the SNP win a majority of seats.

She said: “What I’m proposing is an independence delivery plan which would be implemented, which is designed to maximise and boost support for independence.

“Call it a campaign team with a mission to persuade and to ensure that as many people as possible are being reached.”

During an interview with the BBC, Forbes also spoke of the importance of cutting “vitriol” and “abuse” in order to win No voters over to Yes.

What else has she pledged?

All three candidates have had to face questions on a range of issues, one of which was how they will tackle the UK Government’s blocking of the Gender Reform Recognition (Scotland) Bill.

Speaking at a hustings event, Forbes said the Scottish Parliament had a responsibility to alter the bill.

“One day we are going to be independent, and when we are independent we are going to have to sort these things out ourselves”, she said.

“Yes, I would seek legal advice, but I’d far rather sort out the legislation ourselves rather than having to go to court or without having to seek Westminster’s permission around what we do next.”

The National:

Elsewhere, she has also pledged to publish a revised timetable for the dualling of the A9 if she becomes first minster as well as promising to establish a new body for house building in Scotland.

Forbes has also said that Scotland’s NHS is in need of “fundamental reform” and that she would target the issue of delayed discharge which sees hospital beds blocked by patients who were ready to leave.

Views on same-sex marriage

Forbes lost several of her endorsements at the beginning of her campaign after she told The Scotsman that she would not have supported equal marriage as a “matter of conscience” were she an MSP when the vote was held.

However, she added: “It is legal right now and I am a servant of democracy. I am not a dictator.”

READ MORE: Free Church of Scotland: What are the beliefs of Kate Forbes's church?​

Forbes then later said that having children out of wedlock is “wrong” according to her faith as a member of the Free Church of Scotland.

“For me, it would be wrong according to my faith, but for you I have no idea what your faith is. So, in a free society you can do what you want.”

Who is backing Kate Forbes?

Following her comments on equal marriage, several MSPs backing Forbes withdrew their endorsements, including Gillian Martin, Richard Lochhead and Clare Haughey.

However, those who are still backing the Finance Secretary include Jim Fairlie, the MSP for Perthshire South and Kinross-Shire as well as Michelle Thomson, her campaign manager.

Among those in the Westminster group backing Forbes is Patricia Gibson, the MP for North Ayrshire and Arran.