Hollyrood backed Nicola Sturgeon's push for a second independence referendum today
The SNP joined forces with Green MSPs to push through the controversial motion authorising the First Minister to ask Westminster to hold a legally binding poll.
The Section 30 order is set to be sought later this week after Theresa May triggers Britain’s exit from the EU later today.
But there was widespread condemnation from opposition parties, with Tory leader Ruth Davidson branding the plans a “farce” and, in a blunt exchange, she told Ms Sturgeon: “It stinks.”
While MSPs spent more time debating independence, shocking figures revealed that, last year, one Scots cancer patient waited 309 days for treatment, drawing criticism from charities.
And, at their annual conference, the Scottish Police Federation cast doubt on the force’s ability to deal with a terrorist attack.
Within minutes of the vote at Holyrood, Scottish Secretary David Mundell insisted there will be no talks with Nicola Sturgeon about another independence referendum until Britain has fully left the EU. The Scottish Secretary flatly rejected the prospect of negotiations over a second poll on separation while a post-Brexit relationship is forged with Brussels.
Prime Minister Theresa May has already blocked Ms Sturgeon’s preferred timescale, asserting that “now is not the time” even for discussions.
Mr Mundell’s comments are the clearest signal yet that the UK Government hopes to push any plebiscite back by at least five years.
I hope the UK Government will respect the will of this parliament
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
He said quitting the EU in March 2019 may involve “transitional measures” and require “significant implementation time”.
Ms Sturgeon wants a re-run of the 2014 vote between autumn 2018 and spring 2019.
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She argues this is needed to allow voters to decide what path to follow in the wake of last June’s Brexit vote.
But Mrs May insisted she would not change her mind on rejecting another referendum -following showdown talks in Glasgow on -Monday.
LIVE: Scotland reacts as Sturgeon gets her referendum Tue, March 28, 2017
A total of 69 MSPs voted to hold another referendum and 59 voted against
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Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (R) reacts as she leaves the chamber following a vote on the second day of the 'Scotland's Choice' debate on a motion to seek the authority to hold an indpendence referendum at the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh
The First Minister reopened the debate – stalled by last Wednesday’s Westminster terror attack – by insisting voters should be given a choice.
With Mrs May set to trigger Article 50 and begin the formal process of leaving the EU today, Ms Sturgeon said she would delay -making the official Section 30 request until “later this week”.
The SNP leader also said she will reveal next month how she will respond if the UK Government continues to block her calls. She insisted she did not want confrontation and claimed she only wanted “sensible discussions”.
Ms Sturgeon said: “I hope the UK Government will respect the will of this parliament. If it does so, I will enter discussion in good faith and with a willingness to compromise.
The SNP were able to force the controversial motion through with help from the Greens
“However, if it chooses not to do so I will return to the parliament following the Easter recess to set out the steps that the Scottish Government will take to progress the will of parliament.”
But during heated clashes, Ruth Davidson accused Ms Sturgeon of “cooking up the same old recipe for division”.
At one point she told the First Minister to “sit down” as she refused to let her intervene, hitting out Ms Sturgeon’s “rushed timetable” for a referendum.
Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem MSPs all opposed Ms Sturgeon’s call.
MSPs voted 69 to 59 in favour of a Government motion, amended by the pro-independence Greens, seeking a Section 30 order as well as giving EU citizens and 16 and 17-year-olds a vote.
Speaking after the ballot, Ms Sturgeon insisted the mandate for another poll was “beyond question” and added: “It is up to the UK Government to now make clear when they consider a referendum would be appropriate.” But Mr Mundell said there would be no -“negotiations at all until the Brexit process is complete”. He said: “We’re not entering into negotiations on whether there should be another independence referendum during the Brexit process.
“We don’t have a crystal ball as to how long that process will take. We don’t recognise, for example, 18 months as being a key point in the journey. It will be a journey that will involve the negotiations with the EU, it may be a journey that involves transitional measures, it may be a journey that will involve significant implementation time.
The SNP victory came just hours after it was revealed cancer targets had been missed
“It’s not appropriate to have a referendum whilst people do not know what the future relationship between the UK and the EU is and they won’t know that until the Brexit process is complete.”
This means a poll would be unlikely to take place before 2022 because of the time taken to complete trade arrangements, planned -elections, and the period needed to make -referendum arrangements.
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale insisted Scotland had voted “decisively” to remain in the UK in the 2014 referendum, and warned the First Minister: “We are divided enough, do not divide us again.”
Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said: “Scottish Liberal Democrats stood on a manifesto to oppose a divisive referendum and we will continue to do that.”