Scotland politics

Scottish Independence: Hillary Clinton opposes 'Yes' vote

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Media captionHillary Clinton, former secretary of state for the US, says she believes an independent Scotland would be a "loss for both sides"

Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said she hopes Scotland does not become independent from the rest of the UK.

Ahead of the 18 September referendum, she told the BBC a "Yes" vote would be a "loss for both sides".

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said the nation was "not a property to be lost" but was deciding its future.

UK shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander said Ms Clinton had brought a global perspective to the debate.

Ms Clinton's comments came during a promotional tour for her memoirs, amid continuing speculation as to whether she will mount a US presidential campaign.

The current US president, Barack Obama, has already intervened in the referendum debate, saying his country's interest was to ensure it retained a "strong, robust, united and effective partner".

When asked about the referendum, Ms Clinton, who has an honorary degree from St Andrews University, told the BBC's Jeremy Paxman: "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."

She added: "We'll see what the people of Scotland decide, but I would think it would be a loss for both sides."


Scott Lucas, professor of American studies, Birmingham University

Hillary Clinton doesn't make off-the-cuff remarks, and she certainly doesn't do so on foreign affairs.

The fact that President Obama, and indeed other European politicians, have come out vocally against Scottish independence really points to a coordination among policy-makers on both sides of the Atlantic who basically are saying Scotland should remain part of Britain and, in turn, part of the EU.

I think this is a concerted campaign. 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 to deter Scottish voters from breaking away from Britain.

In a sense, they're comfortable. They know the EU, they know it with Scotland being inside it, and change basically frightens them.

The Swedish foreign minister, Carl Bildt, referred to Scotland leaving as the Balkanisation of Britain, which invokes scary images of the 1990s wars in the former Yugoslavia.

I don't agree with those perceptions, but right now this is as much a battle of propaganda as it is one of reality.

Hillary Clinton is speaking to the Scottish and British public.

She might say, and President Obama might say, 'it's up to Scottish voters to make a decision' - but that's like my mother telling me, 'I can't tell you what to do, but you really shouldn't go to that party on Friday night'.

It will be interesting to see how Scottish voters react, because my perception is that - far from pushing Scottish voters to say 'we have to stay part of Britain' - I think they may assert their own, as it were, independence from these politicians by voting in the referendum precisely to come out of Britain.

Philippa Malmgren, former adviser to President George W. Bush

The United Kingdom is still one of America's most important - if not the most important - defence ally, so it matters whether this nation remains one, or splits into two.

It's only six weeks ago that two British fighter jets were scrambled from Leuchars airbase in Fife, when two Russian jets started to come near British airspace.

The United States right now has quite enough on its plate, with Iraq, issues with both China and the South China Sea and Russia.

To add another defence issue is not what the White House - under any president of any party - would be looking for.

In that sense, I don't think you're going to get the Americans saying, 'go for it'.

There's another issue.

We have quite a few separatist movements of our own in the United States - counties in California that are trying to separate from California, and Texas endlessly wants to become its own nation.

At the end of the day, no president in the United States wants to support separatist movements in general.

Ms Clinton said the referendum in Scotland had gone through a proper legal process, unlike the recent vote in Crimea over its separation from Ukraine.

Mr Salmond said the American politician was entitled to her views, adding the inference that Britain would "lose Scotland" after a "Yes" vote was similar to reported remarks by Prime Minister David Cameron.

The first minister said: "In any case, Scotland is not a property to be lost but a nation about to take a precious and consensual and democratic decision.

"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 in Scotland with a 'Yes' vote."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption US President Barack Obama has already intervened in the Scottish independence debate

Mr Alexander, a former UK international development secretary, said of Ms Clinton: "This is a woman who, as America's senior diplomat over the last four years, has chosen her words extraordinarily carefully.

"I think it's very significant that she's expressed, certainly the fact that it's for those of us in Scotland to make the choice, but a very clear personal view that she would hate it and thinks that it would be better for us to stay together."

Speaking on the BBC's Good Morning Scotland programme, the Scottish Labour MP added: "She has that broader view that recognises that the hallmark and the challenge of this time is not so much independence but interdependence - how do we establish networks of cooperation to meet common challenges, from getting getting global economic growth in a sustainable way to tackling climate change.

"That global view gives her a sense as to what would not just be in Scotland's interests or in the rest of the United Kingdom's interests, but more broadly in European and western interests as well."

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