21/02/2012 06:07 GMT | Updated 21/02/2012 11:46 GMT

Rupert Murdoch: Alex Salmond Is 'Brilliant' And Scotland Should Be Independent

It's the endorsement every politician dreads... Rupert Murdoch has appeared to give his backing to Alex Salmond's drive for Scottish independence.

Murdoch, who is in London to oversee the launch of the Sun on Sunday, made his views known to his almost 185,000 followers on Twitter on Sunday.

The SNP has said it intends to hold a referendum on independence in 2014, the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn.

Murdoch began with a glowing description of the Scottish first minister, labelling him "the most brilliant politician in the UK"

Murdoch's News Corporation is the parent company of News International, which runs The Sun and The Times newspapers. The Scottish Sun is the most read newspaper in Scotland and came out in support of the SNP in the run up to last May's elections.

Murdoch's endorsement of Salmond was then followed by a hint towards support for an independent Scotland.

He tweeted on Monday. "Let Scotland go and compete. Everyone would win."

Having learned of the comments, Salmond said: "It was a very interesting eight words – a textbook example of how to deploy a tweet and cause a great stir."

"We are in a debate in Scotland and internationally about Scotland’s future and I welcome all contributions to that debate, including Mr Murdoch," he added.

A spokesperson for the first minister said Salmond spoke to Murdoch on Tuesday morning to discuss the soon to be launched Sunday Sun in Scotland but did not speak about the editorial stances of News International. "They also talked about the tweet," the spokesman confirmed.

Murdoch was also somewhat disparaging about the place of Britain in the world. Tweeting that it was comical that the Royal Navy had nuclear submarines and should let its "dreams of empire" die.

However many appear to resent Murdoch's intervention on the thorny issue of Scottish independence. Lib Dem MSP Willie Rennie said the tabloid owner's support could be more damaging than helpful:

"After Rupert Murdoch's crisis at News Corporation, it's the endorsement that every politician dreads," he said.

"We need more than eight words from a troubled media tycoon to convince us that we should separate from the UK family."

He wasn't alone in shunning the support:

Veteran broadcaster Andrew Neil has waded into the debate, describing Murdoch as "anti-British" and "anti-establishment" for his recent tweets.

The BBC presenter suggested the media mogul was simply trying to get revenge on those who had targeted his company following the phone hacking scandal.

At least Murdoch appeared to be enjoying the weather.