‘A privilege to spend time with Maggie’ - Branson

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VIRGIN boss Sir Richard Branson opened the press conference in Edinburgh to launch his Little Red flights with a tribute to Baroness Thatcher, describing the role she played in helping his business empire to grow.

“She turned into one of Britain’s great leaders and she will be remembered for that,” he said. “It was a privilege spending time with her. Virgin would not be flying from Heathrow if it had not been for Mrs Thatcher believing in competition and opening up Heathrow to us. She was a great believer in competition and she will have a very important place in the history books.”

He also commented on the Scottish independence campaign, referring to his Scottish roots and Scottish wife, but giving away nothing about his views one way or the other. He said: “If Scotland becomes independent, its people will have an airline that will be delighted to connect them to their neighbour and, if not, we will still be delighted to fly them to little old England.”

TERRY MURDEN