MSPs have voted  69 to 59 to back Nicola Sturgeon's call for a second referendum on Scottish independence.

Sturgeon now has the mandate of parliament to “take forward discussions” with the UK Government on the details of a section 30 order, the mechanism to transfer the legal powers for a vote.

Speaking after the vote, the First Minister said she would make a formal approach to the UK government in the next few days but that it was up to Theresa May to say when the UK Government thought the next referendum would be "acceptable".

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“It is now the will of Scotland’s democratically elected national parliament that discussions should begin with the UK Government to enable an independence referendum to be held," the First Minister said.

"People should be given that choice once the details of the UK’s Brexit deal are clear – and the Prime Minister yesterday confirmed to me that she agrees this will be in 18 months to two years from now.

“Today’s vote must now be respected. The mandate for a referendum is beyond question, and it would be democratically indefensible – and utterly unsustainable – to attempt to stand in the way of it.

“We will now act on the mandate given to us by parliament by making a formal approach to the UK Government within the next few days, after Article 50 has been triggered.

She added: “The Prime Minister says that now is not the time for a referendum. I agree with that, which is why I have indicated a timescale no earlier than 18 months from now, when the terms of Brexit are clear – something the PM has now indicated she agrees with. It is up to the UK Government to now make clear when they consider a referendum would be appropriate."

The First Minister concluded: "The people of Scotland are sovereign, and they will be given a choice on their own future,”

A UK Government spokesperson said there would be no negotiations over a second referendum: “The Prime Minister has been clear that now is not the time for an independence referendum, and we will not be entering into negotiations on the Scottish Government’s proposal. At this point, all our focus should be on our negotiations with the European Union, making sure we get the right deal for the whole of the UK. It would be unfair to the people of Scotland to ask them to make a crucial decision without the necessary information about our future relationship with Europe, or what an independent Scotland would look like.

“We have been joined together as one country for more than 300 years. We’ve worked together, we’ve prospered together, we’ve fought wars together, and we have a bright future. At this crucial time we should be working together, not pulling apart.”

Labour's Kezia Dugdale said holding another referendum on leaving the UK was "the wrong thing to do for Scotland’s economy, especially when there is so much economic uncertainty from the Tories’ reckless plans for a hard Brexit."

She added: “There absolutely should not be another independence referendum until after Brexit. We have no idea what Brexit looks like, or how it will impact our economy and families in Scotland.

“If there is to be another vote, the people of Scotland deserve clarity on what they are being asked to vote on.

“This process cannot be a stitch-up between Nicola Sturgeon and Theresa May."

During the debate Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson argued that people in Scotland did not want the vote.

“Last week, in what was a disgraceful episode, we were shouted at from the SNP benches and told we were frightened to debate independence,” she said.

“We’re not. But we are sick of it. And most people in Scotland have had enough too. Because this parliament needs to and must focus on the priorities of the people of this country. This is not the time to be side-tracked by yet more unnecessary division.

“It is time for a Government that focuses on the job we pay it to do.”

MSPs rejected Labour, Tory and Liberal Democrat attempts to kill off the SNP motion, but backed a Green amendment calling for EU and 16 and 17 year olds to be given the vote in the referendum.