FORMER US president Bill Clinton said Scotland would be better off as a result of the independence referendum – regardless of the result.
He made the remarks at last night’s Scottish Business Awards, where he received a rapturous reception as he arrived to deliver the keynote speech.
Mr Clinton was introduced on to the stage by Sir Tom Hunter, who discussed the work he and the former president have done to aid economic growth in developing countries.
The former POTUS used his keynote speech to encourage the 1700 assembled delegates to use innovation, creativity and most importantly, cooperation, to find solutions to the global economic and environmental crisis, saying: “We live in a time when complex problems require creative solutions.”
Asked if he could offer his views on the Scottish independence debate in a Q&A chaired by awards organiser Josh Littlejohn following his speech, Mr Clinton joked that he was “tempted to say I could but I won’t”, explaining: “It is truly a decision for the people of Scotland to make and I honestly don’t understand enough about what the difference would be between a state of independence and the current devolution understanding.
“Here’s what I know. You’ll come out of this better regardless if you go about it the right way. It’s very important that there be an honest effort to list the consequences of this vote one way or the other.”
Mr Clinton was equally cagey when asked what was next for his wife Hillary, who he referred to as the “most gifted person” of his generation, saying: “If Hillary wants to run again, I will support her. If she does not wish to run again, I will support that too.”
Asked about the recent scandal over the access US and UK security agencies have to phone calls and internet traffic, the former President said: “Freedom and security are not incompatible, they are mutually reinforcing. I think you are more secure if you have more freedom and we’re free if we have more security.”
Mr Clinton, who was greeted by cheering supporters when he arrived at the Balmoral Hotel, is due to leave the Capital today.
Businesses in and around the Lothians were among those in the winners circle, with Online Business of the Year going to FanDuel, a web-based fantasy sports premium game company.
Midlothian-based John Menzies PLC were named KPMG Scottish PLC of the Year, Livingston’s Johnson and Johnson Medical Ltd picked up the Corporate Social Responsibility Award and Cala Group Edinburgh went home with Marketing Strategy of the Year.
The Outstanding Contribution to Scottish Business Award was picked up by Stagecoach boss Sir Brian Souter.