NICOLA Sturgeon has said the “bust” arguments of the Unionist parties has led to their elected representatives “blocking democracy”.

The First Minister’s comments came as she kicked off a debate, with MSPs expected to back a second referendum in a Holyrood vote later.

Sturgeon intends to hold an independence referendum later this year after winning 47 of the 59 seats at last month’s general election and is urging UK ministers to agree to this.

Earlier in the month, Boris Johnson rejected the First Minister’s request for a Section 30 order.

Sturgeon told MSPs this afternoon that Scotland was being taken out the EU against its will and that this constituted “a material change in circumstances”.

Seeking the right to hold indyref2 in the event of something like Brexit is was a manifesto commitment that the SNP was elected on in the 2016 Holyrood election.

Sturgeon anticipated outrage from opposition parties that the debate was taking place at all, despite the negative consequences of leaving the EU The First Minister said areas such as trade, the economy, our young people, the emotional impact on EU citizens living here and on our future population were all set to be impacted adversely.

READ MORE: MEPs ‘leave a light on’ for Scotland's return to the EU

Speaking two days ahead of Brexit Day, she warned of the consequences of both leaving the EU and a Johnson government for Scotland, she said: "Given what the Tories have in store, proposing a further decision on independence isn't simply legitimate – it is necessary."

She also hit out at UK Government ministers, accusing them of being "completely deaf to Scotland's interests, needs and voice", and adding that their vision for the UK is "driven on the part of some by jingoism and xenophobia".

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Independence, she argued, would give Scotland an alternative future.

Sturgeon insisted Brexit is an "affront to democracy", after almost two-thirds of voters north of the border backed Remain in 2016.

With Scotland leaving the EU "against the will of the vast majority of the Scottish people", she insisted this marked a "material change in circumstances" from the reasons behind the first independence vote in 2014.

The First Minister 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."

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon's indyref2 plans to be revealed on Brexit day

She hit out at the Tories, Labour and the LibDems 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."

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

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

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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 LibDem 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."