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Majority of MSPs support having another vote on Brexit


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PA

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Hundreds of thousands of people marched through London calling for a new vote on Brexit

MSPs have voted to express their “unequivocal support” for a referendum on the final terms of Brexit.

Holyrood voted by 65 to 30 in favour of such a move during a debate about the impact of leaving the EU.

SNP, Green and Lib Dem MSPs were joined by two Scottish Labour members in the vote, while the bulk of the Labour group abstained.

The UK government is firmly opposed to having a new referendum, saying the 2016 vote must be respected.

Campaigners have been calling a fresh public vote on whatever Brexit deal the UK hammers out with the EU, with hundreds of thousands of marchers taking to the streets of London in October to demand this.

Nicola Sturgeon confirmed in October that SNP MPs would support such a vote if the question were put to them at Westminster.

But this is the first time MSPs have put their views down on the record in a Holyrood vote, even on a symbolic motion.

The debate – on “safeguarding Scotland’s international research collaborations and reputation for scientific excellence from the threat of Brexit” – included an amendment from the Lib Dems urging members to support the campaign for a so-called “People’s Vote”.

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MSPs voted to back a Lib Dem amendment voicing support for a new Brexit vote

Lib Dem MSP Tavish Scott welcomed the support of the SNP and Greens, saying there were senior figures in other parties also speaking out against a “calamitous Brexit”.

He said there was a “demonstrable shift in attitudes in every corner of the UK” and a “very real momentum” behind having a new vote.

Responding for the government, Richard Lochhead said it was “a democratic outrage that Scotland faces being dragged out of the EU against its will”.

He said “another EU referendum would be an opportunity make sure the wishes of the people of this country are respected”.

Meanwhile Labour’s Iain Gray said he found the idea of a vote “attractive”, but said he would rather have a general election.

His party abstained in the vote on the amendment and on the amended motion, although some members including former leader Kezia Dugdale broke ranks to support the move.

SNP MSP Kenneth Gibson and independent member Mark McDonald voted against the Lib Dem amendment, while the SNP’s Linda Fabiani – who acted as deputy presiding officer during the debate itself – abstained.

‘Obsessive’ campaign

The whole Scottish Conservative group voted against the move, with MSP Oliver Mundell describing the Lib Dems as being “sometimes obsessive” about the matter.

He said “we believe the matter has been settled”, and said it was the SNP who were risking a hard Brexit by refusing to say if they would back whatever deal is struck with the EU in a Westminster vote.

Prime Minister Theresa May has also ruled out having a referendum on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations under any circumstances.

She says her exit plan respects the Leave vote in 2016, and that asking people to vote again would be a betrayal of the public’s trust.



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