THE “historic and generation-defining failure” of Brexit has shown only independence will protect Scotland’s interests, the SNP has said.

Depute leader Keith Brown said the crushing defeat of Theresa May’s Brexit deal and the political deadlock at Westminster had plunged the country into crisis.

And he insisted Labour’s strategy of prioritising pushing for a general election over a second EU referendum had failed.

Mr Brown 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.

“But Labour, too, have been culpable. The SNP called for a vote of no confidence in the UK government last year – but Labour let Theresa May off the hook and she has run down the clock.

“There are many good reasons to want a general election. But so long as Labour oppose a second EU referendum, a new government cannot solve the Brexit crisis. There’s barely a cigarette paper separating Jeremy Corbyn and Theresa May’s positions on Brexit.

“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. We need to grasp that opportunity.”

It came as Nicola Sturgeon is under increasing pressure from within her own party to set out a timetable for a second independence referendum.

Former First Minister Alex Salmond called on her to “concentrate on making history by taking Scotland to independence”.

However, critics said the latest statement by Mr Brown was “further proof that the SNP is desperately trying to weaponise Brexit to create further division in the country”.

Scotland in Union chief executive Pamela Nash said: “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.”

The dispute comes days after Ms Sturgeon promised to reveal her plans for a second independence vote in a “matter of weeks”, regardless of what happens with the Brexit deal.

She said it is essential “that the option of independence must be open to people in Scotland”.