A LEADING economist has said he sees Scottish independence as “almost all upside” as he slammed the “short-termism” of the UK economy.

David McWilliams has worked as an economist with some of Europe’s biggest banks, including Banque Nationale de Paris, UBS and the Central Bank of Ireland.

Now the Irishman - credited with coining the term "Celtic Tiger" - has come out in favour of Scottish independence, saying it is “how you grow up as a nation”.

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He noted that Scotland is “amazingly well situated for renewable energy” and that “independent countries work”.

McWilliams added: “There is nothing to be afraid of with respect to independence.”

Speaking to the Scotonomics podcast, he said Scotland faced the choice of following the Irish example or remaining “a concubine of London”.

Countries like New Zealand, Singapore, Finland and Denmark proved small nations could forge their own paths, according to McWilliams.

He said: “They’ve all achieved extraordinary things off of pretty flimsy bases. What they have achieved is they have managed to liberate the creative impulses of their own people.”

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Independence has allowed them to “liberate the creative impulses of their own people”, McWilliams said.

He said a new “openness” in Ireland post-independence encouraged a new generation to launch start ups and grow the economy.

He added: “Half of the Irish story is about what we felt like, ourselves and how we moved to become a much more open society and how that openness created a catalyst for people backing themselves, for people deciding to set up their own little companies, do their thing.

“All of that is there, it’s there for the taking.

“That is what’s possible, or you can just go through this decline you’re going through at the moment. That is the choice.”

Lamenting the loss of Scotland’s finance sector, McWilliams recalled meeting men in Edinburgh “who sounded English” and had “weird names…like Murray Campbell or Campbell Murray”.

These were “last vestiges of the Scottish finance industry in the late 90s”, he said.

He said visiting the country more than 20 years ago made him realise Scotland was being held back by being in the Union.

“What I could never understand about Scotland was how the country wasn’t like Ireland,” he said.

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“It didn’t feel dynamic, it didn’t feel effervescent, it felt pretty rich by European standards, pretty well off.

“But the cultural renaissance I expected to feel – I didn’t.”

As one of the leading voices in the 1990s who warned about an impending financial crash in the 2000s because of the housing bubble, McWilliams expressed concern about the state of the UK economy at the moment.

He said: “Everything is peculiar about the British economy. It is captivated by short-termism.

“Of course, the rentier capitalism leads to corruption, chumocracy which we’re seeing now.”

And he took a dim view of the scandal-plagued Prime Minister, saying: “That fella wouldn’t last a day in Ireland. That type of creature, you’d take your children on the far side of the road if you saw him coming up to you.”

McWilliams is thought to have come up with the phrase Celtic Tiger, referring to Ireland’s economic boom time in the late 1990s, while working as the head of emerging markets at Banque Nationale de Paris.

In 2000, McWilliams (who has previously been branded a “professional naysayer”) predicted a property market collapse in the coming years.

He was criticised as "alarmist" before the 2008 crash and accused of knocking consumer confidence.