By a Newsnet reporter
The Scottish Parliament has officially endorsed the idea of Scottish Independence for the first time in its recent history.
The historic vote, the first since the dissolution of the old Parliament in 1707, saw MSPs back the idea of a Sovereign Scotland by 69 votes to 52.
The debate on Scotland's future witnessed First Minister Alex Salmond set out his vision for a future independent nation.
Mr Salmond said: "The Scottish Parliament has achieved a great deal in its short lifespan - the smoking ban, the world-leading Climate Change Act, the new legislation to help tackle Scotland's relationship with alcohol - these are just a few of the many, many advances," and added:
"But this parliament is not yet able to make many of the key decisions which affect the lives of our fellow countrymen and women."
Mr Salmond added that the Scottish Parliament would remain much as it was now, but insisted that the High Court in Edinburgh would take over as Scotland’s Supreme Court from the current London based court.
The First Minister also said that Scotland would continue as a member of the EU with the Queen as head of State and the pound sterling as currency.
Unionist opposition leaders challenged the First Minister’s vision with all three using a variation of the ‘separation’ term in order to describe independence.
Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont caused a stir when she appeared to claim that Scots had been in favour of the original act of Union in 1707. Scots in fact rioted on hearing the announcement of the loss of independence.
"We as a nation were never conquered, the United Kingdom has not been imposed upon us, it is the choice of Scots to share power with our neighbours on these small islands - and we are stronger together.” said the Scottish Labour leader.
Ms Lamont also controversially claimed that Scotland, had we been independent at this moment, would be seeking to hand over sovereignty and control of our resources to London.
She added: "Had Scotland been a separate country right now, I believe we would be seriously looking at creating the type of union we currently enjoy, the type of social economic and political union that has brought us 300 years of peace and stability, the type of union that allows us to weather the worst economic crisis of our lifetime when the banking sector collapsed."
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson claimed that independence would be a one way street and there would be “no going back”. Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie claimed to have always wanted more powers for Scotland, but added “that doesn't mean I want to be separate."
Commenting after the debate, SNP MSP Humza Yousaf said:
"This is a genuinely historic moment for the Scottish Parliament. With this vote it shows that, thirteen years after it was reconvened, it is ready, willing and able to take on the full responsibilities of any normal legislature.
"The United Nations comprised just 51 countries when it was formed in 1945 – that number has now grown to more than 190 member states of the UN, many of whom have become independent in the last 70 years. Scotland is now ready to take the next step and join the ranks of independent countries.
"In contrast to the relentless negative scaremongering from the Labour-Tory anti-independence alliance, the simple truth is that it is better for the decisions affecting Scotland to be taken by the people who care about Scotland most, that is, the people of Scotland.
"Parliament has spoken and backed independence, and soon it will be the turn of the people of Scotland. The autumn 2014 referendum is the biggest opportunity for Scotland in 300 years and the campaign has now begun in earnest."