MSPs have voted to demand the powers to hold a second independence referendum from the UK Government.
After three sessions of debate at Holyrood, the SNP and Greens banded together to defeat the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats and agree to ask for a section 30 order, required to hold a legal vote.
The UK Government instantly rejected the proposal, despite no official request having come forward from Scottish ministers.
#indyref2 before Brexit process is complete is unfair, so can't be agreed. Nor will there be any negotiations in response to such a request
— David Mundell MP (@DavidMundellDCT) March 28, 2017
The two-day proceedings, which started last week, had been pushed back following the terror attacks in London.
As she reopened the debate, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Scottish voters should have the right to choose between the “significant and profound” change that Brexit will cause and independence.
She said: “My argument is simply this: when the nature of the change that is made inevitable by Brexit becomes clear, that change should not be imposed upon us, we should have the right to decide the nature of that change.
“The people of Scotland should have the right to choose between Brexit – possibly a very hard Brexit – or becoming an independent country, able to chart our own course and create a true partnership of equals across these islands.”
— Alan Jenkins (@ajjenkins) March 28, 2017
Ms Sturgeon wants to stage another vote between autumn next year and spring 2019.
The SNP leader met Theresa May in Glasgow on Monday and the Prime Minister has said “now is not the time” for another vote, indicating she will reject the SNP’s preferred timetable.
Ms Sturgeon said that in recognition of the importance of the triggering of Article 50, the formal mechanism for the UK leaving the European Union which will take place on Wednesday, she would delay making the section 30 request until “later this week”.
A UK Government spokesperson said: “The Prime Minister has been clear that now is not the time for an independence referendum, and we will not be entering into negotiations on the Scottish Government’s proposal.
“At this point, all our focus should be on our negotiations with the European Union, making sure we get the right deal for the whole of the UK. It would be unfair to the people of Scotland to ask them to make a crucial decision without the necessary information about our future relationship with Europe, or what an independent Scotland would look like.
“We have been joined together as one country for more than 300 years. We’ve worked together, we’ve prospered together, we’ve fought wars together, and we have a bright future. At this crucial time we should be working together, not pulling apart.”
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson accused the First Minister of having a “rushed timetable” for the referendum.
She added: “The First Minister’s plan for a rushed referendum with a campaign beginning now without public consent, with no agreement in place for how it should take place, with only one side dictating the timing, the question, the franchise or the rules, would be a farce.”
Ms Davidson continued: “Last week, in what was a disgraceful episode, we were shouted at from the SNP benches we were frightened to debate independence.
“We’re not frightened but we are sick of it, and most people in Scotland have had enough too.”
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said: “Let’s not pretend that thisSNP-Green push for another divisive referendum reflects the will of the Scottishpeople because it does not.
“Eighty-five per cent of the population voted in the last referendum and we voted decisively to remain in the UK.”
Ms Dugdale said independence would “result in £15 billion of extra cuts”, a figure she said had been “rubbished” by SNP politicians.
Green MSP Andy Wightman defended his party against accusations it had broken its own manifesto pledges by backing Ms Sturgeon.
The party had outlined plans to secure one million signatures on a pro-independence petition before a second vote on the issue.
He added: “Contrary to much mis-reporting, it is not the only means by which we would vote in favour of another referendum.”
Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton said: “The 2014 referendum caused such friction in our society, one in four report a damaged relationship with a friend or family member as a result of it.
“I would not see Scotland return to such a state of acrimony.”