Scotland politics

Nicola Sturgeon: 'People must decide' Brexit outcome

Nicola Sturgeon

The Brexit deadline should be put back long enough for a new referendum in light of the UK government's latest defeat, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The latest version of Theresa May's exit plan was voted down in the Commons by 391 to 242 on Tuesday evening.

MPs will now vote on Wednesday on the prospect of leaving the EU without a deal, and potentially then on whether to extend the process beyond 29 March.

The Scottish first minister said MPs should reject no deal "decisively".

And she said the failure of the Commons to agree on a deal meant the issue should now be put back to the public in a fresh referendum.

The prime minister meanwhile said she was "disappointed" with the defeat, and told MPs that they now face "unenviable choices".

Mrs May flew to Strasbourg for talks with the EU's chief negotiator on Monday evening, returning with what she described as "legally binding" changes to her Brexit plan.

However, this proposal was ultimately rejected by MPs by a margin of 149 votes.

This was a lesser defeat than that Mrs May suffered in January - when an earlier iteration of her proposal was shot down by a historic margin of 230 votes - but she once again faced significant opposition from her own Conservative backbenchers and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

All of Scotland's SNP, Labour and Lib Dem MPs voted along party lines against the deal, along with Tory rebel Ross Thomson.

Scottish Conservative MP John Lamont, who voted against Mrs May's deal in January, was one of those who switched to support her, after saying it had been improved and was "better than no deal".

Meanwhile fellow Tory Douglas Ross, who also voted against the deal in January, missed Tuesday's vote after his wife went into labour.

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Media captionMPs voted by 391 to 242 against Theresa May's Brexit plan

Ms Sturgeon told BBC Scotland that Mrs May "only has herself to blame" for the defeat, and said "by rights this prime minister and government should be out of office this evening".

She said: "Here we have a UK teetering on the edge, and a government that has just stopped functioning.

"What has to happen now is the House of Commons must vote decisively tomorrow to take no deal off the table completely.

"And then there must be an extension to Article 50, long enough to allow for another EU referendum to take place. Because if parliament can't decide - and parliament has failed to decide - then the people surely must decide."

'Brink of catastrophe'

The SNP leader also said she was "very angry at what is unfolding".

She said: "I'm spending an inordinate amount of time right now planning for the possibility of not having medicine supplies, food supplies, exporters not being able to get their goods to market.

"I am very angry that we have government that has been incompetent, that has failed to listen and that has brought the UK - Scotland included - to the brink of catastrophe, and still tonight seem to be oblivious to the damage they're doing."

Ms Sturgeon also said that "in the fullness of time" Scots should be offered a choice as to whether to "carry on down this disastrous path with the UK" or "prosper and succeed with independence".

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Media captionPM Theresa May: "This House risks no Brexit at all"

MPs will now return to the Commons to debate whether the UK should leave the EU without a deal - something many members have pledged to oppose, and which Mrs May is giving Conservative members a free vote.

If no deal is also rejected, MPs will then hold a vote on Thursday on whether to seek an extension of the "Article 50" deadline, the current exit date of 29 March.

An extension to the Article 50 period of negotiations would need to be unanimously agreed with the 27 remaining EU member states.

Mrs May - who had earlier said that losing the vote "risks no Brexit at all" - told MPs after the latest defeat that "voting against leaving without a deal and for an extension does not solve the problems we face".

She said: "The EU will want to know what use we want to make of an extension. Does this house want to revoke Article 50? Does it want to hold a second referendum? Or does it want to leave with a deal, but not this deal?

"These are unenviable choices, but thanks to the choice the house has made this evening, they are choices that must now be faced."

Shadow Scottish Secretary Lesley Laird said Mrs May was "in office but not in power", and said parliament "must now vote to take no deal off the table".

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