HOLYROOD has voted in favour of holding a second independence referendum.

MSPs backed the move by 64 votes to 54, with the Scottish Government proposing it should take place later this year.

It comes despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson insisting he will not hand over the powers to hold a re-run of 2014.

Last night, Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said the latest Holyrood vote changed nothing.

Conservative, Labour and Lib Dem amendments were all voted down by the pro-independence majority.

Nicola Sturgeon insisted another vote is necessary to protect Scotland from the consequences of a Tory Government and Brexit.

The First Minister said independence is now the only realistic way Scotland can be part of Europe.

She accused UK ministers of being "completely deaf to Scotland's interests, needs and voice", and said their vision for the UK is "driven on the part of some by jingoism and xenophobia".

She said: "We stand just two days from losing our EU membership and all of the rights that go with it.

"In my view it is beyond doubt now that the only realistic way for Scotland to return to the heart of Europe and to ensure we get the governments we vote for is to become an independent country.

"What should be beyond any democratic argument, in light of the material change in circumstances that Brexit represents, is that it must be Scotland's choice to make.

"And it must be for this Parliament, not Westminster, to determine when and on what basis an independence referendum should take place."

Ms Sturgeon hit out at the Tories, Labour and the Liberal Democrats for their opposition to a second ballot, saying: "It is hard to escape the conclusion that it is their fear of the choice Scotland would make on the substantive question that is driving the anti-democratic position of the opposition parties.

"It is only ever parties that know their arguments are bust that have to resort to blocking democracy.

"I know not everyone agrees with my position on independence, but I am happy to have that debate and let Scotland decide."

Mr Johnson formally rejected Ms Sturgeon's call for a second referendum earlier this month.

The First Minister will set out her "next steps" on how to address this on Friday.

It is not clear what route the SNP leader will take. Some in her party have backed holding a consultative referendum without waiting for the UK Government's approval, while there has also been speculation around possible legal action.

MSPs previously voted in favour of another referendum in 2017, when Theresa May was also refusing to hand over the relevant powers.

Opposition leaders accused Ms Sturgeon of a "contemptuous use of power" for debating Scottish independence at Holyrood rather than the issues of education, policing or the health service.

Scottish Conservative stand-in leader Jackson Carlaw said the debate was a "ridiculous charade" from an SNP Government "divided" over independence.

He added: "If only this Government spent the same amount of attention on police and schools as it does on polling and spin, we might have the safest streets and the best schools in Europe.

"Instead of a laser-like focus on education, health and the economy, they all have been sidelined in favour of this First Minister's singular priority."

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said dealing with the consequences of Brexit should take priority over an independence vote this year.

He insisted "nobody in this chamber really believes that there will be a referendum this year", as he branded the Government motion being debated as "synthetic, political manufacture, dressed up as high principle".

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie claimed the First Minister's actions were an attempt to appease factions within her own party rather than to push Holyrood to make a decision on the constitution.

But Green co-leader Patrick Harvie backed the First Minister, saying: "Scotland is not being given the respect for that claim of right, that sovereignty that was given to the people, and the only way to change that is for Scotland - the people who live here - to be given the right to make that decision for themselves again."