Angus Struan Carolus Robertson (born 28 September 1969) is a Scottish politician serving as the Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture since 2021. Former Depute Leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) from 2016 to 2018, he has served as the Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for Edinburgh Central since 2021. Robertson previously served as a Westminster MP for Moray from 2001 to 2017, where he served from 2007 to 2017 as the Leader of the SNP in the House of Commons.
|Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture|
|Assumed office |
20 May 2021
|First Minister||Nicola Sturgeon|
|Preceded by||Mike Russell (Constitution and External Affairs)|
Fiona Hyslop (Culture)
|Depute Leader of the Scottish National Party|
13 October 2016 – 3 February 2018
|Preceded by||Stewart Hosie|
|Succeeded by||Keith Brown|
|Leader of the Scottish National Party in the House of Commons|
23 May 2007 – 3 May 2017
|Leader||Alex Salmond |
|Preceded by||Alex Salmond|
|Succeeded by||Ian Blackford|
|SNP Spokesperson for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs|
10 May 2001 – 30 March 2015
|Preceded by||Office established|
|Succeeded by||Alex Salmond (International Affairs and Europe)|
|SNP Spokesperson for Defence|
10 May 2001 – 30 March 2015
|Preceded by||Office established|
|Succeeded by||Brendan O'Hara|
|Member of the Scottish Parliament|
for Edinburgh Central
|Assumed office |
7 May 2021
|Preceded by||Ruth Davidson|
|Member of Parliament|
7 June 2001 – 3 May 2017
|Preceded by||Margaret Ewing|
|Succeeded by||Douglas Ross|
Angus Struan Carolus Robertson
28 September 1969
|Political party||Scottish National Party|
|Alma mater||University of Aberdeen|
A graduate of the University of Aberdeen, Robertson previously worked as a journalist. He was first elected to the House of Commons in 2001. In 2017, he sought re-election as the MP for Moray and lost to the Scottish Conservative candidate, Douglas Ross. He was succeeded as SNP Westminster Leader by Ian Blackford.
Robertson resigned as SNP Depute Leader in February 2018, before launching the pro-independence think tank Progress Scotland in 2019, alongside Mark Diffley. In the 2021 Scottish Parliament election, Robertson was elected to the Scottish Parliament for Edinburgh Central.
Robertson was born in Wimbledon, London, to a Scottish father, Struan, who was an engineer, and a German mother, Anna, who was a nurse. Robertson was brought up in Edinburgh and speaks fluent German. He was educated at Broughton High School, Edinburgh and the University of Aberdeen, where he graduated in 1991 with an MA Honours degree in politics and international relations. After university he embarked on a journalistic career, and worked as a foreign and diplomatic correspondent in Central Europe for the BBC World Service.
Robertson joined the Scottish National Party in 1984, at the age of 15, after being given a leaflet about the party's youth wing by Charlie Reid of The Proclaimers. He was the European and International Affairs Adviser to the SNP Group in the Scottish Parliament.
Robertson was first elected to the UK House of Commons in June 2001, representing the Moray constituency. During his first parliamentary session, Robertson was Scotland's youngest MP and was rated Scotland's "hardest working MP" according to statistics from the House of Commons. He was a member of the European Scrutiny Committee from 2001 to 2010, and served as the SNP's spokesman on Defence and International Relations. Robertson was well above average amongst MPs in the number of contributions he made in the House of Commons. In January 2006, Robertson provided Swiss Senator Dick Marty a report containing what he calls 'a detailed report of numerous suspect movements of aircraft transiting through Scotland.
In May 2007, he became SNP Leader in the House of Commons, following Alex Salmond's election as First Minister of Scotland. Following the 2015 general election and the election of Salmond as MP for Gordon, it was confirmed that he would continue in his role as leader in the Commons. In September 2015, he was appointed to the Privy Council and as a member of the Intelligence and Security Committee of Parliament.
In 2007 Robertson pushed for a UK-wide referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, something that the SNP opposed because it entrenched EU control over Scottish affairs. "We'll trust the people, while Gordon Brown will not trust the people," Robertson told The Daily Record, "We are honour-bound to support a referendum."
Ahead of the 2015 General Election, Robertson had the SNP pass a code of conduct that stated any MP must, "accept that no member shall within or outwith the parliament publicly criticise a group decision, policy or another member of the group". Rival parties labelled it a "Stalinist" crackdown on free speech and independent thought.
In 2018 it was revealed that Robertson had been contacted a decade ago by staff at Edinburgh Airport about the alleged behaviour of then First Minister Alex Salmond. Robertson said: "In 2009 I was called by an Edinburgh Airport manager about Alex Salmond's perceived 'inappropriateness' towards female staff at the airport. I was asked if I could informally broach the subject with Mr Salmond to make him aware of this perception. I raised the matter directly with Mr Salmond, who denied he had acted inappropriately in any way. I communicated back to the Edinburgh Airport manager that a conversation had happened. The matter being resolved, and without a formal complaint having been made, it was not reported further." It was subsequently reported that Salmond had been banned from using a VIP access corridor at the airport. Robertson's handling of the allegations were later investigated by the Committee on the Scottish Government Handling of Harassment Complaints in 2020 and he submitted written evidence.
In January 2016, Robertson said that British Prime Minister David Cameron should admit to British involvement in Saudi Arabian-led intervention in Yemen: "Isn't it time for the Prime Minister to admit that Britain is effectively taking part in a war in Yemen that is costing thousands of civilians lives and he has not sought parliamentary approval to do this?"
On 13 October 2016, he was elected Depute Leader of the SNP, replacing Stewart Hosie. Robertson received 52.5% of the votes, defeating Tommy Sheppard (25.5%), Alyn Smith (18.6%) and Chris McEleny (3.3%) in the election. He resigned in February 2018.
During the 2017 general election Robertson told the media that "Tory is a four letter word in Scotland", but amid a backlash to Nicola Sturgeon's decision to call for a second independence referendum, he lost his Moray seat to Douglas Ross of the Scottish Conservatives. In a profile of the seat for The Guardian after the election, journalist Severin Carrell summarised the result: "Moray had been an SNP seat for 30 years but... using Brexit as the basis for a second independence vote so soon after 2014 crystallised an irritation with the party brewing for several years. The Tory cry that Sturgeon needed “to get on with the day job” resonated."
After losing his seat, Robertson resigned as a Depute Leader of the SNP and established Progress Scotland, a pro-independence think-tank.
In February 2020, Robertson announced his intention to contest the Edinburgh Central constituency in the 2021 Scottish Parliament election. He won selection ahead of Marco Biagi, a former MSP for the area. Robertson won the seat with 39% of the vote, beating out the Scottish Conservative candidate by 4,732 votes.
In May 2021, following the SNP's victory, he was appointed Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Alex Cole-Hamilton of the Scottish Liberal Democrats said his party could not support the role, filled by Robertson. He stated "not one minute" of ministerial or civil service time should given to the "tired, old arguments about currency and about borders". However, his amendment to a Scottish Government motion appointing new ministers was rejected by 70 votes to four, with 51 abstentions.
In 2022 Robertson was charged with overseeing Scotland's decennial census. However, when only 77% of households returned the census - compared with a rate of 97% for the one in England and Wales the previous year - Robertson extended the deadline at a cost of nearly £10 million. Robertson said the war in Ukraine was partly to blame but told the Scottish Parliament there were "potentially serious consequences for not completing a census". Opposition politicians labelled Robertson's handling of the census "nothing short of disastrous" and said the SNP had been foolish not to hold it at the same time as the rest of the country when there was a significant amount of UK-wide publicity about the event.
Ahead of the selection contest for the seat of Edinburgh Central, the SNP National Executive Committee announced that any MP chosen as a candidate for Holyrood would be obliged to resign from Westminster ahead of the election to the Scottish Parliament. Some considered the rule change a deliberate "stitch up" by the SNP establishment to stop MP Joanna Cherry, a critic of the party leadership, from winning the party's nomination for the seat and boost the candidacy of Angus Robertson, a leadership loyalist. Cherry dropped out of the contest, citing an unwillingness to make her staff unemployed in a pandemic, and Robertson won the party's nomination.
In September 2020, Robertson wrote that a rise in support for independence in opinion polls could be attributed to, "55,000 predominantly No supporting older voters passing away every year... Since 2014, this has added around 330,000 voters to the electorate, with a likely net gain of over 100,000 for independence.” His remarks were condemned as tasteless by opposition parties and his successor as MP for Moray, Douglas Ross, described them as, "Disgraceful and deeply disappointing comments from Angus Robertson, suggesting that the most vulnerable age group, who have been hardest hit through the tragic loss of so many lives throughout the pandemic, are a boost to his independence obsession. A new low for the SNP.” Robertson said his analysis was "simple statistical facts".
In 2015, The Daily Telegraph reported that Robertson's second home expenses had included a television costing £1,119, a £400 home cinema system, £500 for a bed, £20 for a corkscrew and £2,324 for a sofa bed. The home cinema system was initially denied by the expenses office; however, Robertson appealed this decision and it was subsequently awarded.
In 2017 it was reported in several newspapers that Robertson had sold his second home in London, the mortgage on which was paid on expenses, as part of his divorce settlement. Robertson had previously pledged to repay the value of the expenses on the property and donate any profit to charity. The flat was disposed of in the run up to Mr Robertson’s divorce and he did not profit from the sale of the flat. Its furniture and contents were distributed to Moray based charities.
Robertson's wife, Jennifer Dempsie, is a former advisor to Alex Salmond. She campaigned to inherit Salmond's Scottish Parliament seat in Aberdeenshire East but withdrew to focus on her business career.[failed verification]
On 29 May 2021, he announced the birth of his second child.
In August 2016, he was awarded the Grand Decoration of Honour in Gold for Services to the Austrian Republic.