KATE Forbes has rejected a role she was offered in Humza Yousaf's government.

The runner-up in the SNP leadership race has opted to work from the backbenches.

She was offered the Cabinet secretary for rural affairs and islands job, according to reports, but declined Yousaf's offer.

Earlier on Tuesday, the new first minister-elect announced that Shona Robison would be his deputy.

Asked by press at the time if there would be a role in government for Forbes, Yousaf said he would "absolutely" like to see her take one on.

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The now-former finance secretary narrowly lost out in the SNP leadership race by 52% of the membership votes to 48%, after the ballot went to the second round

A narrative of a "divided" party followed the close-run vote, which Forbes's refusal to serve in government will do little to disspell.

The Scottish Sun quoted a source on Forbes's refusal as saying: "She told him where to stick it."

The rural affairs brief would have been a demotion for Forbes, who as finance secretary held one of the top jobs in the Scottish Government.

There are questions around whether she could have maintained a role in the Scottish Government given the rule of collective responsibility and Yousaf's stated aim of challenging the UK Government's block on gender reform. 

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Reports have also suggested that Business Minister Ivan McKee (above), who backed Forbes and initially worked as her campaign manager, has been offer a more junior role and is likely to resign to the backbenches.

But while Forbes's allies were briefing against Yousaf, Forbes herself has spoken well of the new SNP chief.

"To the great credit of @HumzaYousaf the first official convo he had after Monday’s result was with me," she said on Twitter. 

"He has been respectful, supportive and warm throughout. In whatever capacity I serve, I’ll support him.

"Ps after 5 long weeks, I’ll be delighted to see more of my family!"

In an earlier statement, Forbes said: "I was delighted to vote for @HumzaYousaf to be First Minister today. He has my full support, as he governs well & furthers the case for independence.

"I have full confidence he will appoint a talented Cabinet and ministerial team, able to meet the challenges facing the country."

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The rejection of the role has seen criticism of Yousaf from figures within the SNP.

One senior figure told the Times it was a "f***ing cheek" to offer Forbes rural affairs, while another claimed it was “going down like a cup of cold shite with members”.

Yousaf supporters also suggested the move was "flat-footed" and risked further division in the party.

Former SNP MSP Joan McAlpine wrote on Twitter: "This is so obviously a demotion from finance secretary, she really had no option but to go. By choosing to move to the backbenches, she loses a significant chunk of salary."

And another former SNP MSP, Alex Neil, who was vocally critical of Yousaf during the leadership campaign, claimed the offer was an "an insult".

SNP MSP Emma Roddick, who represents the Highlands and Islands, said it was "hard not to be offended by the number of folk slagging rural as a non-job/unimportant".

"It's an incredibly important portfolio – the holder will be in charge of progressing land reform, biodiversity, island support, and lots more," she added.

Forbes's decision to reject the offer has been praised by Scottish Conservative MSPs. 

Stephen Kerr, the party's education spokesperson, said it was "wise" of her to choose to have "nothing to do" with Yousaf's government.

This was echoed by Murdo Fraser MSP, who also responded with a fire emoji (indicating approval) to the "source" quote given to the Scottish Sun. 

Forbes was parachuted into the finance secretary position after Derek Mackay resigned from the role in February 2020 following reports he sent hundreds of messages to a 16-year-old boy.

She went on maternity leave in July 2022, coming back to work in order to fight the SNP leadership race.