The SNP’s new deputy leader has left his role as Scottish economy secretary as Nicola Sturgeon begins a reshuffle of her cabinet.

Ms Sturgeon said Keith Brown was leaving the government to focus on putting the party on a “campaign footing”.

He previously told the Sunday Post that being deputy leader would not affect his ability to serve in the cabinet.

The first minister will announce further changes to her top team later.

Mr Brown said he wanted to “give his all” to the deputy leadership role that he won earlier this month, with Ms Sturgeon saying he would prepare the SNP for a possible snap general election and the next Holyrood election – and “develop the case for independence”.

Ms Sturgeon’s core team of cabinet secretaries has been unchanged since the last Holyrood election in May 2016.

There have been changes to the junior ministerial team in that time, with Mark McDonald quitting his post as early years minister in November 2017 after sexual harassment allegations were made against him. He was replaced by Maree Todd.

Any new ministers would need to be approved by a vote of parliament, which is expected to take place on Wednesday.

Ms Sturgeon has aimed for gender balance in her top team since she took office, which is expected to be maintained following the reshuffle.

Opposition parties have put pressure on the first minister to move Health Secretary Shona Robison and Justice Secretary Michael Matheson out of their current briefs.

There has also been speculation that some other longstanding cabinet members may seek a move to the back benches.

Social security minister Jeane Freeman and SNP backbenchers including Kate Forbes and Ash Denham – all newly elected to Holyrood in 2016 – have been tipped for promotion.

Ms Sturgeon’s move to refresh her team comes as a survey showed public confidence in the Scottish government has slipped slightly – while remaining far higher than in the UK government.

The Scottish Social Attitudes Survey showed that in 2017, 61% of respondents trusted the Scottish government to work in Scotland’s best interests, and 37% trusted it to make fair decisions – a drop from 65% and 40% respectively in 2016.

Trust in the UK government was much lower, with 20% trusting them to work in Scotland’s best interests and 16% trusting them to make fair decisions.

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