An “historic and generation-defining failure” by the Conservatives on Brexit strengthens the case for Scottish independence, the SNP has claimed.
The party’s depute leader Keith Brown said Theresa May’s historic Commons defeat of her Withdrawal Agreement and the political deadlock at Westminster has plunged the country into crisis.
He said: “Westminster has long been unfit for purpose, but this self-inflicted crisis has exposed just how badly Scotland’s interests are being served.
“The Tories are guilty of an historic and generation-defining failure. An internal squabble has moved from the playing fields of Eton to the world stage, and ordinary people are set to pay the price.
“It has become increasingly clear that the only way Scotland’s interests can be protected – and our democratic decisions respected – is through independence.
“Too often Tory governments are imposed on Scotland, against our will and at great cost. Only independence will stop the Tories for good.”
But Scotland in Union chief executive Pamela Nash said: “This is further proof that the SNP is desperately trying to weaponise Brexit to create further division in the country.
“It’s a stark reminder to those who voted to remain in the EU that Keith Brown and Nicola Sturgeon plan to use your votes to break up the United Kingdom.
“This is about much more than the party in power at Westminster. It is about a 300-year-old union of nations based on our ongoing shared history and culture, with a future based on economic prosperity rather than deeper austerity with independence.
“Whatever your views on Brexit, or the political parties at Westminster, breaking up the world’s most successful union is not the answer.”
Scottish Labour deputy leader Lesley Laird said: “It is deeply irresponsible for the SNP to use the instability and chaos caused by the Tories over Brexit to push for yet more instability and chaos with another independence referendum.
“Labour has set out a sensible alternative to Theresa May’s deal that would protect jobs, workers’ rights and our industries. But the Prime Minister is refusing to remove the threat of a catastrophic no-deal Brexit and refusing to accept her deal is dead, despite suffering the biggest defeat in the Commons in British political history.
“Scotland needs radical Labour governments at Westminster and Holyrood to deliver real change in our economy – creating jobs, tackling poverty and giving our public services the funding they desperately need.”
The dispute comes days after First Minister Ms Sturgeon promised to reveal her plans for a second Scottish independence referendum in a “matter of weeks”, regardless of what happens with the Brexit deal.
Speaking at First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, Ms Sturgeon said: “There is water to go under the bridge in the next matter of weeks and when it has done so, I will make my views on the timings of a choice on independence clear.
“I think it is essential, given the catastrophe that Scotland faces – to our economy, to our society, to living standards, to prospects for the next generation, to our reputation in the world – that the option of independence must be open to people in Scotland.”
Scottish Conservative constitution spokesman Adam Tomkins said: “Since the result in 2014, the SNP has barely stopped talking about its bid to break up Britain.
“Despite this shamelessly relentless approach, support for separation hasn’t increased.
“That’s all the evidence Nicola Sturgeon should need to take the threat of another independence referendum off the table.”