NICOLA Sturgeon has hailed a Commons vote to delay Brexit and avoid a no-deal crash-out as “excellent” news.

The First Minister said Boris Johnson’s “losing run” had continued with MPs voting not to agree to any deal on Brexit until after the associated legislation had been passed.

She said he sounded “deflated and defeated” at the “severe blow” to his repeated promise to leave by October 31.

The effect of the vote, proposed by former Tory minister Sir Oliver Letwin, is to force the Prime Minister to seek a three-month Brexit delay tonight from the EU Council.

The Government has now put off having a meaningful vote on Mr Johnson's deal until at least Monday.

Ms Sturgeon tweeted: “Johnson’s losing run continues and, more importantly, his contradictory promises to the ERG and Labour rebels, and his bad deal overall, can be subjected to real scrutiny. PM sounding deflated and defeated - he knows this is a severe blow to his plan to bludgeon his bad deal through.”

Mr Johnson has said he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than sent the letter to the EU, which he is legally required to do by the so-called Benn Act.

After MPs voted 322 to 306 in favour of the Letwin amendment, he said: “I will not negotiate a delay with the EU, and neither does the law compel me to do so.”

Although this sounds tough, the Benn Act does not involve negotiations on the terms of the letter or the timing of a delay.

It forces the PM to send a set text requesting a three-month delay and then accept whatever the EU offers in return, whether three months or longer, unless MPs can agree a deal.

Indeed, Mr Johnson admitted in his opening statemet to MPs that he could be forced to send a letter.

He said: "I must tell the House again, in all candour, that, whatever letters they may seek to force the Government to write, it cannot change my judgment that further delay is pointless, expensive and deeply corrosive of public trust."

In theory, Mr Johnson could still get his Brexit deal through the Commons by October 31 if he can pass the required legislation and then get MPs to sign off the package as a whole.

However the time-table is extremely tight, and the legislation could be subject to a series of amendments and other parliamentary devices.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford warned Mr Johnson not to think of trying to break the law, warning him: “You will find yourself in court”.

He added later: “Boris Johnson has been defeated on his appalling deal.

"The Prime Minister must now obey the law and secure an extension - or we'll see him in court.
"Scotland has been completely ignored and shafted throughout the Brexit process. Despite voting overwhelmingly to remain, the Tories are trying to drag us out of the EU on the hardest terms, with a deal that would take us out of the single market and customs union, put us at a competitive disadvantage, and leave us as the only part of the UK with a raw deal and no say.

"It is vital that the opposition parties work together to ensure this Prime Minister secures an extension and takes no-deal off the table.

"Whatever happens now it is clear the only way to protect Scotland's interests is to become an equal and independent European country - and the people of Scotland must have that choice.”

Acting Scottish Tory leader Jackson Carlaw said: "People will be furious that opposition MPs have again conspired to frustrate this process.

“They don’t care about the respecting the will of the people – they give the clear impression that they are motivated simply by their own particular political ambitions.

“The SNP will vote any way they can to increase the chances of independence, while Labour will seemingly do all they can to crowbar Jeremy Corbyn into office. Those shameful and short-sighted tactics defy democracy.

“MPs need to knock their heads together and vote for the legislation next week which will ensure the UK leaves the EU in an orderly way and on October 31."

SNP MP Joanna Cherry QC, whose contribution after the vote by interrupting by Tory MPs leaving en masse, also reminded the Commons of a pending Scottish Court case.

Three judges at the Court of Session are standing by to hear a case brought by Ms Cherry and others that could compel Mr Johnson to write his delay letter to the EU if he refuses.

The judges could also use its unique power of nobile officium to have a court official or another person have the letter in place of the Prime Minister.

Ms Cherry asked Speaker John Bercow if he would be willing to write the letter if the Court directed him to do so.

He said he would obey a court, but had no expectation or desire to be involved.

For Labour, Shadow Scottish Secretary Lesley laird said: "MPs have given a clear signal to Boris Johnson that they don't trust him or his Brexit deal. He must now obey the law and seek an extension to Article 50.

"Time and time again, we have been told that the best way to get Brexit done is to vote for a deal. That is a false choice and by voting for Boris Johnson's deal, we would have opened the door to a decade of negotiations leading to deregulation and a trade deal with Donald Trump.

“This deal was a sell out that would lead to a sell off. Labour is clear that we must let the people decide and that any Brexit deal must be put back to the public with the option to remain on the ballot paper."

LibDem leader Jo Swinson said: “The fight to stop Brexit continues, and the Liberal Democrats will keep working for a People’s Vote so that the people can have the final say.

“Hundreds of thousands of people are marching outside to demand a final say and a People’s Vote. The Prime Minister must now obey the law and send a letter asking for an extension to Article 50.

“The Liberal Democrats are the strongest party of Remain. We will use the extra time we now have to secure a People’s Vote and campaign to remain in the European Union.”

Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “Boris Johnson has once again been defeated by democracy. His attempt to foist his rotten deal upon us, just like his attempt to unlawfully bypass parliament, has been rebuffed.

"The law now calls for the Prime Minister to seek a Brexit extension.

"As soon as that extension is secured, and the disaster capitalist fantasy of No Deal is averted, we should swiftly give the public the chance finally to stop Brexit, and kick this illegitimate Prime Minister out of office.”

Edinburgh Labour MP Ian Murray: "This vote is a clear defeat for Boris Johnson.

"It's a crucial insurance policy as we continue the fight to prevent a catastrophic Brexit.

"We have removed the opportunity for the Brexit zealots in the Tory Party to trash the Withdrawal Bill and take us out with no deal.

"It also exposes the SNP lies about Labour facilitating Brexit - its time for the Nationalists to focus on attacking the Tories, not Labour.

"There is still a long way to go in this saga, but the Prime Minister must now get all the legislation though or have to write to the EU and request an extension.

"One thing is absolutely clear - the only way to solve this unprecedented constitutional crisis is to give the public a final say, with the chance to keep the best deal we already have as a member of the EU."