MSPs last night backed holding a “People’s Vote” on the final terms of a Brexit deal, with Holyrood voting 65 to 30 in favour.

There were 20 abstentions in the vote, which came after it was put forward in a LibDem amendment to a Scottish Government motion in a debate on the Brexit threat to international scientific research in Scotland.

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The SNP and Greens backed the LibDems in the face of Tory opposition, with Labour abstaining.

Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead warned of a “Brexit brain drain” should Scotland be dragged out of Europe against the will of its people.

“In Scotland, a country that voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, we should be resolutely focused on attracting the best minds in Europe to work and study here to help us build a successful, prosperous nation, but instead, thanks to the actions of others, we face the prospect of a Brexit brain drain,” said Lochhead.

“We have to stand together and stop that happening.

“I have been actively encouraging EU nationals that I have been meeting to continue to study and work at universities and other research organisations in Scotland.

“And it is really important, amidst the chaos of Brexit, we need to send out a message that Scotland is open for business and that we welcome with open arms EU nationals to our universities and research institutions.”

The National: Richard Lochhead

Higher Education Minister Richard Lochhead warned of a ‘Brexit brain drain’ on Scotland

LibDem Tavish Scott, who tabled the motion, highlighted that many in Scotland’s higher education sector wanted a right to vote, including 23 senior figures from Aberdeen, Edinburgh and St Andrews universities who had signed an open letter warning of the consequences of Brexit and calling for a People’s Vote.

“This Parliament should speak for our university and research sector, and all the people who work in it, and we should give them a right to a vote on it in the future,” he said.

Ross Greer, the Scottish Greens’ education spokesman, added: “We’re fast running out of time but here is a window in which we can avoid this nonsense and reverse the damage already done. I hope we can seize it.”

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His party co-convener, Patrick Harvie, welcomed MSPs’ endorsement: “Tonight’s vote was very clear, with an outright majority of MSPs voting in favour of a People’s Vote, and renewing the strong message that Scotland should not be dragged out of Europe against the clear public will.

“This adds to the many local authorities which have backed the campaign, including Glasgow City Council last week.”

Labour’s Iain Gray said Brexit had been a “chaotic and catastrophic process”, but Kezia Dugdale and Daniel Johnson were the only members of the party not to abstain.

Johnson said: “Tonight I took the difficult decision to break the whip and vote for a People’s Vote. The impact of Brexit on my constituents and the ever increasing risk of a no-deal Brexit mean that I think a new vote is necessary.”

Tory Oliver Mundell accused the LibDems of having a “somewhat obsessive wish to hold another referendum”.

Campaign group Scotland for a People’s Vote welcomed Holyrood’s “unequivocal support” for a public vote.

A spokesperson said: “People are rejecting Brexit south of the Border as well as in Scotland. Democracy demands a People’s Vote – where Holyrood has led, Westminster should follow.”

Theresa May, meanwhile, has faced demands from her own Cabinet and her Democratic Unionist Party allies to show the full legal advice behind her Brexit plans.

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Her Cabinet is on stand-by for fresh talks to agree a deal amid claims by Tory Leavers that she has already reached an agreement, while May will update European Council president Donald Tusk on the latest developments.

Brexiteers, including Environment Secretary Michael Gove, want to see the full legal advice setting out how any customs arrangement to avoid a hard Irish border could be ended to avoid it becoming a permanent settlement.

DUP chief whip Sir Jeffrey Donaldson called for the advice to be published, as did shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer.