By Sean Martin
Alex Salmond has challenged comments made by Hillary Clinton after the US Secretary of State implied that Scotland was a property of Britain which it would lose if Scots voted Yes in September’s independence referendum.
Asked by Jeremy Paxman if “Scotland was integral to Britain”, Mrs Clinton replied: “I would hate to have you lose Scotland. I hope it doesn’t happen, but again I don’t have a vote in Scotland, but I would hope it doesn’t happen.”
Mrs Clinton, 66, went on to say that in her opinion, a Yes vote in September’s independence referendum would be a “loss for both sides”.
The First Minister has responded by drawing comparisons between Mrs Clinton’s comments and those made recently by Prime Minister David Cameron.
He said: “Mrs Clinton’s observations are quite interesting in that she infers Britain will ‘lose Scotland’ after a Yes vote. This reflects reports that David Cameron has said he doesn’t want to ‘lose’ Scotland – likening it to George III losing the United States.
“Unlike that period in American history – when independence was only gained through conflict – we are deeply fortunate in that we have the opportunity to secure our nation’s independence in a profoundly democratic way.”
Mr Salmond also criticised the phrasing of Mrs Clinton’s comments – commenting that Scotland was, “not a property to be lost, but a nation about to take a precious and consensual and democratic decision”.
He added: “An independent Scotland will be a friend and ally to our neighbours in the rest of the UK as well as to our friends in the United States of America.
“The eyes of the world are on Scotland as we look forward to one of the most exciting days in our history – but that huge international focus, and all the economic and other opportunities it will bring, will only stay on Scotland with a Yes vote.”
Mrs Clinton’s interview followed comments by Barack Obama last week in which he also appeared to back a No vote on 18 September.
“The United Kingdom has been an extraordinary partner to us. From the outside at least, it looks like things have worked pretty well,” he told reporters in Brussels.
“We obviously have a deep interest in making sure that one of the closest allies we will ever have remains a strong, robust, united and effective partner – but ultimately these are decisions to be made by the folks there.”
Scott Lucas, professor of American Studies at Birmingham University, said that, in his opinion, the response to the Scottish referendum by prominent foreign political figures has been a ‘concerted campaign’.
He told the BBC: “I think it’s one that’s been discussed by the White House. I think it’s been discussed by Number 10 and by other European capitals to try and deter voters from breaking away from Britain.
“In a sense, they’re comfortable. They know the EU, they know it with Scotland inside it and change basically frightens them.”