Mike Russell, the SNP’s Cabinet Secretary for Business and Constitutional Relations, has said he will not stand in the Holyrood election next year. Mr Russell has been a key figure in Nicola Sturgeon’s Cabinet and in 2016 was appointed to lead negotiations with the Westminster Government on Brexit. In a statement announcing his decision, the 66-year-old MSP for Argyll and Bute said he will be 72-years-old at the end of the next parliament and needed someone younger in the role.
He said: “I have been the MSP for Argyll and Bute since 2011 and it has been an enormous privilege as well as a greatly enjoyable task.
“However I will be 67 this summer and 72 at the end of the next Parliament.
“Argyll and Bute is a massive area to cover with 23 inhabited islands and a large swathe of the mainland - and I am getting to the stage of thinking that someone younger would be better able to fulfil all the demands of the constituency.
“It is, I think, much better I say that now than wait for someone else to do so.”
Nicola Sturgeon's key cabinet secretary has announced he will step down (Image: GETTY)
Mike Russell will step down at the next Holyrood election (Image: GETTY)
Mr Russell has been a SNP activist since 1961 and served in a number of ministerial positions.
The veteran SNP MSP was appointed Chief Executive of the Scottish National Party in 1994.
When the SNP entered Government in 2007 he was appointed Minister for Environment and then Minister for Culture, External Affairs and the Constitution.
In December 2009 he became Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning.
The First Minister of Scotland appointed Mr Russell to lead Brexit negotiations (Image: GETTY)
In his statement, Mr Russell took a final swipe at the UK Government for taking Scotland out of the European Union.
Mr Russels said it has been “distressing” to see Scotland leave the