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McLeish resignation Friday, 23 November, 2001, 06:50 GMT
McConnell ready to shuffle pack
Jack McConnell, first minister
Jack McConnell said he is ready for the challenge ahead
Scotland's new first minister is to hold a series of weekend meetings with deputy ministers and special advisors in preparation for taking the reins of power on Tuesday.

Jack McConnell has already had one-to-one talks with some Cabinet colleagues to help him decide who will have a place in his executive.

He will decide on his reshuffle over the weekend and then on Monday he will have an audience with the Queen.

On Tuesday, Mr McConnell will go to the Court of Session, in Edinburgh, to receive the seal of office and formally become Scotland's third first minister since the Scottish Parliament's inception in 1999.

Henry McLeish
Henry McLeish resigned over an expenses row

Speaking on the BBC's Newsnight Scotland programme after his election, Mr McConnell said he could understand why his predecessor, Henry McLeish, had decided to resign.

He said he believed that Mr McLeish had made the right choice by stepping down as a row over his office expenses continued to rage.

Mr McConnell said: "I think for Henry and his family he has probably made the right decision because of the pressure that had been placed on them and the personal cost with that."

The new leader said it was the belief of the Scottish Executive and the parliament that it was time to move on and face the challenges that lay ahead.

Mr McConnell said that despite the controversy after he was given a free run for the Scottish Labour leadership race, he felt "enthused" by the support of his colleagues.


I'll look at what is needed in a ministerial team

Jack McConnell

Next week he will unveil his cabinet line-up and he said that while there may be changes, they will not be as dramatic as some reports suggest.

He said: "The phrase, 'the night of the long knives' has been used and that will not be the case.

"I am looking at ministerial positions next week. This weekend I'll be looking at designing the right jobs for Scotland first of all.

"I'll look at what is needed in a ministerial team - which may mean some changes to the current team - and secondly, I'll want to get the right people for those jobs."

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First Minister Jack McConnell
"There will be no night of the long knives"

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22 Nov 01 | McLeish resignation
22 Nov 01 | McLeish resignation
21 Nov 01 | McLeish resignation
20 Nov 01 | McLeish resignation
18 Nov 01 | McLeish resignation
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