It’s budget day in the Scottish parliament and the Scottish finance secretary has just resigned. Derek Mackay has quit his role as finance secretary hours before he was due to deliver his budget following a story published in the Scottish Sun alleging he sent inappropriate messages to a 16-year-old boy on social media.
The paper published a list of messages Mackay had allegedly sent to the boy since contacting the individual ‘out of the blue’ in August of last year. The messages published include Mackay, 42, seemingly telling the teenager he was ‘cute’, that he was ‘looking good with new haircut’ and inviting him to a dinner.
In response to the story, Mackay, a leading SNP politician who had even been tipped as a potential successor to Nicola Sturgeon, released the following statement:
‘I take full responsibility for my actions. I have behaved foolishly and I am truly sorry. I apologise unreservedly to the individual involved and his family.
I spoke last night with the first minister and tendered my resignation with immediate effect. Serving in government has been a huge privilege and I am sorry to have let colleagues and supporters down.’
So what does this mean for the SNP? This is akin to a chancellor having to resign on budget day. Taking his place in delivering the Scottish government’s draft budget for 2020/21 today is Mackay’s deputy Kate Forbes. Sturgeon has released a short statement saying that Mackay made a ‘significant’ contribution to government but that she had accepted his resignation. Further questions over how this situation came to arise in her government will undoubtedly follow.