HOLYROOD has rejected the UK’s post-Brexit trade deal with the EU despite Westminster giving it overwhelmingly support.

MSPs voted by 92 to 30 with one abstention to withhold legislative consent from the law giving effect to the 1,246-page deal, which was struck on Christmas Eve. 

All parties except the Scottish Tories voted against the EU (Future Relationship) Bill on the basis it would “cause severe damage to Scotland’s environmental, economic and social interests”, and there had been too little time to give it adequate scrutiny. 

The abstention belonged to former SNP minister Alex Neil, the only parliamentarian from his party to openly support Brexit.

An SNP Government motion opposing the Bill was combined with a Labour amendment urging Edinburgh and London “to work together to ensure that the current rights of workers, and Erasmus, are protected and that the highest environmental standards are upheld.” 

It followed MPs voting by 521 to 73 in the Commons to back the same legislation. 

Holyrood's Europe Committee also recommended withholding consent from the Bill.

The Holyrood vote is not binding, as Westminster can - and will - override it.

Under the Sewel convention, Westminster will not “normally” legislate in devolved areas without Holyrood’s consent, but the UK Government argues Brexit is not normal.

The Scottish Government said the deal was inferior in every way to staying in the EU, with its modelling projecting a 6.1 per cent (£9billion) dent in the Scots economy by 2030. 

Nicola Sturgeon also emphasised that Scotland did not vote to leave the EU in 2016, and said only independence would let the country choose its own future.

Opening the debate, the First Minister said the UK Government had shown “utter contempt for Scotland and our people” with the Brexit deal.

She said the agreement with the EU would “make us less free” and cost UK businesses £7bn each year in added regulatory requirements.

She said: “This must be the worst negotiating outcome in history, a hard Brexit for Scotland, and a comprehensive sellout of the Scottish fishing industry,” adding that Holyrood should not be “complicit” with Mr Johnson’s deal.

Challenged by Tory MSP Dean Lockhart about the UK being able to strike new free trade deals immediately Ms Sturgeon replied: “None of these free trade agreements will make up for membership of the world’s biggest single market that, in two days time, we get ripped off against our will.”

She also accused Boris Johnson’s Tories of “selling out” the Scottish fishing fleet upon EU exit just as Ted Heath’s government sold them out upon EU entry in 1973.

She said: "Even fishing - the one sector that expected benefits from Brexit - has been comprehensively let down.

"The Tory fishing promises were never deliverable - as many of us pointed out - but they were made, and the industry had a right to rely on them.

"That betrayal is there for all to see in this deal.

"There is a long-term arrangement guaranteeing EU boats access to UK waters; access and quota shares are included in the future economic partnership; and access to waters is not just tied to the overall trade deal but hardwired into it.

"Every Tory promise to Scotland’s fishermen has been broken, and every Tory red line has been crossed.

"The fishing industry has been misled and sold out by the Tories all over again. It was betrayed by the Tories on the way into the EU and it has been betrayed by them on the way out."

Ms Sturgeon also took repeated aim at Holyrood Tory group leader Ruth Davidson, accusing her of dropping her previous hardlines against Brexit and in favour of single market membership in return for a seat in the House of Lords.

The FM said: "Not long ago, Ruth Davidson made it known that she would resign rather than support a differential deal for Northern Ireland.

"It is amazing what the offer of a place in the House of Lords can do to the merest whiff of a Ruth Davidson principle."

Ms Davidson said those voting against the deal were voting by default for no-deal, citing the pro-independence Wings Over Scotland blog in her support.

Accusing the SNP of “contortions” and “hypocrisy”, she said the choice, given the UK left the EU 11 months ago, was between a deal or no-deal and the SNP was “stoking up division”.

She said: “To vote against the deal is to vote against zero trade zero tariffs, to vote against deep security intelligence cooperation – never before, offered by the EU in such an agreement.

“It’s voting against participation in science and research and space programmes.

“It is voting against agreements for airlines and hauliers and is voting against securing access for our fishermen to markets for their products, and is voting against recognition for geographical indicators like Scotch whisky, Stornoway black pudding and Arbroath Smokies.”

Mr Sturgeon replied: “Every single thing that Ruth Davidson has just listed, we had as members of the European Union.”

The First Minister concluded: "The people of Scotland have been ignored throughout the whole fiasco.

"Our views have been disregarded and our Parliament has been treated with contempt.

"For Scotland, we now know beyond doubt that the Westminster system is broken beyond repair.

"We deserve better than a dismal choice between a terrible deal and no deal. We deserve the right to choose the best deal of all: a future as an independent European country.

"It is only through independence that we will ever get to choose the future that we want.

"Independence—that is the deal that many people in Scotland now want. We will have the right to choose it."

Ms Davidson added later: "The SNP have weaponised the 2016 referendum result to fuel their strategy of grievance and division. The people of Scotland can see right through it. 

“While Sturgeon claims to talk for Scotland what she really means is she talks only for the SNP.” 

Green MSP Patrick Harvie said the passing of the deal into law at Westminster was not the end of the fight against Brexit, but the beginning of the campaign to rejoin the EU - first with Scotland as an independent country, and then with the UK rethinking its decision to Leave.

He said: “To some people, today marks the end of their long campaign of British exceptionalism, xenophobia, anti-immigrant rhetoric and free market deregulation extremism. 

“To some people, it might feel like the end of a period of extraordinary chaos, incompetence and hubris in the governance of the UK. 

“To me, this moment is not an end; in the long run, it will mark only a temporary interruption of our place in the European family. It is the beginning of a campaign to rejoin.” 

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “This is a bad deal. The Prime Minister ran down the clock in the most cynical fashion, giving parliamentarians just three working days to read, analyse, scrutinise and vote on 1,246 pages of complex legal text. 

“The UK economy will suffer a slow puncture as companies decide to work out of Europe in future rather than out of the UK.

“The UK Government must step up and explain how on earth it will create new jobs and opportunities, how it will engage with our neighbours in Europe, and how it will work and trade with new countries. 

“When our children look back at this time, they will be astonished that the UK Government voluntarily pursued this big-bang change in the middle of a global pandemic and the biggest economic and health crisis that this country has ever faced - it is quite astonishing.” 

Veteran SNP MSP Bruce Crawford was cheered when he refused an intervention from Tory MSP Liam Kerr.

“I have only four minutes and I have had enough of Brexiteers for the rest of my life, frankly,” Mr Crawford said.

After the vote, SNP Constitution Secretary Michael Russell said: “The Scottish Parliament has backed this government’s position: saying No to a hard Brexit deal that will do enormous damage to our economy, our society and to the opportunities of this and future generations.

“But, as it has done so throughout the Brexit process the UK Government will ignore the Scottish Parliament. This means in two days’ time Scotland will be forced out of the European Single Market and Customs Union, hitting the economy and jobs at the worst possible time.

“The Scottish Government will now do everything we can to mitigate the damage that will be caused.

“And we will continue to stick by our principles, our values and our beliefs - and we will stick by the people of Scotland, who have opposed Brexit at every turn.

“It is therefore more important than ever that people in Scotland have the right to choose the best deal of all – a future as an independent country and equal partner inside the European Union.”

Labour Constitution spokesman Anas Sarwar added: "Today the UK Labour Party put the national interest first and prevented no deal, and the Scottish Labour Party protected the devolution settlement by stating its opposition to the way in which the Tory government has catastrophically mishandled Brexit.

“It is deeply encouraging that the Scottish Parliament has endorsed Labour’s call for the Erasmus scheme to be protected and for workers’ rights and environmental standards to be upheld.

“We don’t defeat division with more division. We don’t defeat nationalism with more nationalism.

“Only by working together in the national interest can we protect our society from the impact of Brexit and focus on rebuilding after Covid.”