Nicola Sturgeon said the Tories should “hang their heads in shame” over Brexit chaos, as she used the second defeat of Theresa May’s deal to claim the case for independence had “never been stronger”. 

The First Minister said the predictable result could have been avoided if Mrs May had stood up to “Brexit extremists” in the Tory party instead of trying to appease them.

She urged MPs to vote tonight against the “catastrophe” of no deal and said Brexit should be delayed enough to allow a People’s Vote to be held with Remain on the ballot paper.

The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford suggested a People’s Vote could be held in the autumn.

Ms Sturgeon said: “The Prime Minister and the UK Government should be hanging their heads in shame.  We now have a Government that has effectively ceased to function and a country that remains poised on a cliff edge.

“What is abundantly clear is the UK Government and Parliament have been unable to turn the result of the 2016 referendum into a workable or deliverable plan to leave the EU.”


She said the Prime Minister should rule out a no-deal Brexit, rather than offer MPs a free vote on it today.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Ruling out no-deal and extending Article 50 would stop the clock on Brexit and enable another referendum on EU membership to be held. We will support any such referendum, provided it has the option to remain in the EU on the ballot paper.

Scotland’s needs and voice have been ignored by the UK Government throughout the Brexit process. A handful of DUP MPs held more sway over Scotland’s future than our own national Parliament – that demonstrates more clearly than ever the case for Scotland becoming an independent country has never been stronger. We will continue to stand up for Scotland and to reflect our nation’s overwhelming vote to remain in the EU.”  

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said he was “disappointed but not surprised” by the 149-vote defeat for Mrs May’s deal, which he said was only “marginally” better than the 230-vote defeat in January. 

He said it had been a “good deal” offering an orderly exit and a positive new relationship with Europe.

He said: “I will be backing the Prime Minister’s motion to decline a no-deal outcome. I think that would be wholly negative for Scotland, and I don’t want to see, and have never wanted to see, that outcome. Indeed, that’s why I’ve supported this deal.”

He said he still hoped the coming days would see the emergence of “an agreed basis for leaving the EU that can command majority support across Parliament”.

Mr Blackford said Mrs May was “in office, but not in power”.

Calling for an extension of Article 50, he said: “Scotland voted to remain in the EU and we must not be dragged out against our will. The case for independence is stronger than ever. If Westminster continues to prove incapable of respecting Scotland’s wishes Scotland will move to protect our own interests.”

For Labour, shadow Scottish secretary Lesley Laird said: “After weeks of running down the clock, Theresa May’s dreadful deal has been defeated again in the Commons.

“This is a Prime Minister, in office but not in power, who drew needless red lines to appease hardline Brexiteers instead of reaching out in common sense to find common ground. Parliament must now vote to take no deal off the table.”

Dr Liz Cameron, head of Scottish Chambers of Commerce, said the defeat would add to the “growing frustration and disappointment” felt by businesses around the country.

She said: “Firms have shouldered the burden of uncertainty too long, and this result will further impact on our capacity to trade, invest and hire.

Business communities have warned time and time again that the UK is not ready to face the consequences of a disorderly exit from the European Union. 

“Yet, we are alarmingly close to departing without a clearly thought-out plan - this must not be allowed to happen on 29th March, whether by default or design.

“With only 17 days to go, politicians on all sides must deliver for business and the economy, and seek to avoid the debilitating consequences of a no deal outcome would have on the Scottish and UK economy.”

Scottish LibDems’ MP Jamie Stone said: “The Prime Minister’s government has lost its authority and cannot take this forward. Parliament now has to get no deal off the table. MPs should extend Article 50 to allow time to exit from this mess through a People’s Vote, with the option of remaining in the EU.”

Kerry Buist, director of Scotland For A People’s Vote, said: “Yet again, the UK Government has been defeated by a huge majority on one of the most important votes ever brought to the House of Commons – with 80 per cent of Scottish MPs rejecting Theresa May’s bad deal.

“A further spin of the wheel at Westminster for this dead deal would be utterly pointless. Instead, there is only one way forward – to hand the final decision back to the public through a People’s Vote.

“Polls show that people in the rest of the UK have joined with voters in Scotland in not wanting Brexit at all anymore – a People’s Vote is a democratic opportunity for Scotland’s wish to stay in the EU to be respected Edinburgh."

South Labour MP Ian Murray, an advocate of a People’s Vote, said: “This latest humiliating defeat for the Prime Minister shows that she cannot command the support of MPs for her disastrous deal. It’s is disgraceful that she has run down the clock, and with time running out she must now stop playing this reckless game with people’s livelihoods.

“It is vital we seek to extend Article 50, rule out a calamitous no deal Brexit, and go back to the people with the option to keep the best deal we currently have as a member of the EU.”