SCOTLAND has a minister for independence for the first time as SNP MSP Jamie Hepburn takes on the role working directly under Humza Yousaf.

The First Minister, who was sworn in at the Court of Session on Wednesday, announced a raft of government appointments as he brought a fresh team to the Cabinet table.

We exclusively revealed during the SNP leadership campaign that Yousaf argued that as the Scottish Government was elected on a pro-independence platform, the SNP “shouldn’t be ashamed” about using those resources to further the cause.

So who is Jamie Hepburn, what other government roles has he had, and what can we expect from the new minister for Independence?

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Who is Jamie Hepburn?

HEPBURN joined the SNP aged 18, was active in the party’s student wing and was involved in the campaigns to elect Ian Hamilton and Alisdair Gray as rector of Glasgow University. Prior to starting off in student politics, the 43-year-old attended Hyndland Secondary School in Glasgow, before later graduating from the University of Glasgow with a Politics and History degree.

Before becoming an SNP politician, Hepburn served as senior vice president of Glasgow University Students’ Representative Council and as convener of the SNP’s student wing.

He would later represent the youth arm on the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC) for two years. He was also the convener of Young Scots for Independence (YSI).

Hepburn also had various roles outside of politics, from working as a doorman at the Citizens’ Theatre in Glasgow to a data processor at Scottish Power, as well as a research assistant for Alex Neil MSP, the former health secretary.

The National: Hepburn has had a number of junior ministerial roles under Nicola SturgeonHepburn has had a number of junior ministerial roles under Nicola Sturgeon

Elected to the Scottish Parliament for the first time in 2007, Hepburn served as a regional list MSP for the Central Scotland region until 2011, before winning the constituency seat for Cumbernauld and Kilsyth in 2011.

Hepburn served on a number of committees including rural affairs and environment, European and external affairs, and public petitions, during his early years in Holyrood.

He was made minister for sport and health improvement under Nicola Sturgeon in 2014, and was then moved to the post of minister for employability and training in 2016. After two years in that role he was given the business, fair Work and skills brief, and then in 2021 was moved into higher education and youth employment.

As of March 2023, Hepburn will be Scotland’s minister for independence.

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What responsibilities will the minister for independence have?

THE exact details of Hepburn’s brief are yet to be revealed, however, Yousaf previously revealed the role would be to “advance the case for independence”.

In an exclusive interview with the Sunday National on the campaign trail, he disagreed with rival Kate Forbes’s approach that responsibility should be taken away from the “British civil service” to create the independence white papers. Acknowledging that party activists are key, Yousaf said it was vital to use the “machinery of government to fund the cause”.

He added: “I want it to be really clear that we’re not just going to be stuck in constitutional argy-bargy – I want it to be known that the role of that Cabinet Secretary has to advance the independence cause. We shouldn’t be ashamed about that.”

Hepburn will serve directly under Yousaf, it was revealed in the Cabinet appointments, while Angus Robertson retains the role of Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution and External Affairs.

What has Jamie Hepburn said about his appointment?

HEPBURN posted a message on social media and said it was a “tremendous” honour to be given the role.

He said: “Having joined @theSNP as a teenager and having campaigned for independence as the key to creating a better Scotland for over 25 years, it is a tremendous honour to have been asked by the First Minister to serve as the @scotgov Minister for Independence.

“It is a responsibility that I take seriously given the mandate given to @theSNP at the last election which returned a majority to the Scottish Parliament in favour of independence.

“I look forward to working with colleagues inside and outwith Parliament in the period ahead.”