SCOTTISH business minister Ivan McKee has backed Kate Forbes to become the next First Minister, claiming that her religious views are not “relevant”.

The Finance Secretary, currently on maternity leave, has been one of the top names floated to take over the SNP leadership after Nicola Sturgeon resigned on Wednesday.

While Forbes has not spoken out herself, yet, rumours have been flying that the ambitious MSP would be the best placed to take over.

READ MORE: SNP leadership contest begins to replace Nicola Sturgeon

Meanwhile, Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson is currently the bookies' favourite, and Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said he was “seriously considering” a leadership bid.

With the deadline for nominations set for February 24, there is still plenty of opportunity for candidates to put themselves forward.

While Forbes hasn’t confirmed a leadership bid, she has found support in some quarters of the party, with fellow MSP McKee saying she would stand "head and shoulders above everyone else".

Speaking to Patrick Maguire on Times Radio, he said: "I've considered all the names that have been suggested. And to be honest with you, I think that the candidate that will stand head and shoulders above anyone else, if she chooses to stand, would be Kate Forbes.

The National: Forbes has been tipped as one of the top choices to replace Nicola SturgeonForbes has been tipped as one of the top choices to replace Nicola Sturgeon

"She's a hugely talented individual. She is a real authentic person.

“She's got some remarkable political skills and gauges extremely well with everyone she talks to.”

McKee also said Forbes electoral record showed she had one of the largest votes of support across Scotland in 2021.

He added: “And she is hugely committed to Scotland and the cause of independence...she would be the person to energise the party and indeed the wider yes movement, bring people together to focus on the issues that we need to win the arguments on for independence deliver successful public services and economy across Scotland on the galvanize the support for independence"


Forbes is a member of the Free Church of Scotland, which has an anti-abortion stance, raising concerns that her religious beliefs would be incompatible with the role, particularly in light of the looming legal battle over Scotland’s gender reforms and the upcoming buffer zones bill.

Asked if Forbes' religious views could be a problem for her staging a leadership campaign, McKee said her stance wouldn't be relevant.

He said: "I don't think it would be. And I'm speaking here as an atheist. And I think if we get to the point where we are saying that people, obviously on faith, can't hold political office because of their faith then I think that that would be a very concerning situation.

“And I think if Kate had a different faith, we absolutely wouldn't be making those kind of comments. So I don't think her faith is in any way relevant. And Kate will speak for herself with regards to her perspective on those issues that you've mentioned and anything else."

McKee also ruled out standing in the leadership race himself: He told the programme: "I've decided that that's not for me.

"I've got a lot to contribute, I believe to the party, to Scotland, and the cause for independence, but I will continue to do that, hopefully as a government minister under the next First Minister."