‘Difficult to see how Mackay can stay as MSP’, states colleague Keith Brown

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By Bill Heaney

The SNP’s deputy leader, Keith Brown,  says it is “very difficult” to see how the ex-finance secretary can continue to serve as an MSP.

Derek Mackay resigned from his cabinet post and was suspended from the party following allegations he messaged a 16-year-old boy hundreds of times.

Keith Brown said any decision to quit as the MSP for Renfrewshire North and West would have to come from Mackay.

He said the party could not force him to step down as an MSP.

It emerged on Saturday the teenager had spoken to police about the messages.

Speaking on the BBC’s Politics Scotland programme, Keith Brown said it was an extremely serious situation for the boy and that it was being treated “very seriously” by the Scottish government and the first minister.

He said: “I think it’s very difficult to see how he can continue but it is his decision.”

He added: “As for Derek Mackay’s own future, that’s something that only he can decide. It is not something over which the SNP or the government have any control.

“As things stand Derek Mackay is a suspended member of the SNP and there will be a process through which we will have to go and I think it’s better that I don’t comment on that just now.”

Mr Brown also backed Public Finance Minister Kate Forbes to be the new finance minister following Mackay’s departure.

Ms Forbes took on the task of setting out the government’s tax and spend plans for the next year on Thursday with just a few hours’ notice.

Mr Brown said: “I think everyone who watched the budget last week saw the performance of Kate Forbes. Everyone saw how well she handled that. The decision will be made by the first minister.”

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