With the Tories in turmoil, it is the duty of the Labour Party to set out a clear direction for Britain’s future.
Scottish Labour can lead the way and help persuade our party to use the majority that exists in the Commons for remaining in the Single Market and the Customs Union.
The SNP wants Scotland to leave the Single Market with its largest trading partner – the UK – and the Tories want the UK to leave the Single Market with its largest trading partner – the EU.
We need to remain in BOTH.
The trade union movement supports membership of the Single Market.
TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said only the Single Market guarantees British workers' hard-won rights - and she is right.
The Labour movement supports membership of the Single Market.
Welsh Labour’s leader Carwyn Jones said there is ‘no need’ for the UK to leave the Single Market - and he’s right.
London mayor Sadiq Khan said Single Market membership is the best way of protecting jobs and investment – and he’s right.
It's time for Scottish Labour to join those calls.
Every study has shown that our members support remaining in the Single Market and fiercely oppose Brexit. We owe it to them to be on the right side of this debate.
But more importantly, we owe it to the country and the very people who our party is supposed to represent.
With Brexit, the Tories are doing what they always do to Britain: putting decent jobs at risk.
And, once more, it is up to Labour to stop them.
The Tories are seeking not only to pull us out of the EU – but to wrench us out of the Single Market too.
Why does this matter? Because when countries choose to co-operate economically, they usually create jobs and help prosperity. In Labour we know this instinctively, because we know we always achieve more together than we achieve alone. That's why, unlike the SNP, we want to protect jobs in Aberdeen and Aberystwyth, Bathgate and Birmingham, Cumbernauld and Coventry.
In the 1980s, Margaret Thatcher decimated British industry, driven by her misguided ideology. Meanwhile, in other European countries, socialists came up with a plan to work together so high-skilled manufacturing, with decent working conditions, could thrive alongside new service industries.
When Labour took power in 1997, we signed up to the European Social Chapter, invested in people, and backed British industry for the first time in decades. Manufacturing plants which survived – which employ nearly 3 million people, including many trade union members – now make up some of the most productive parts of the British economy.
But today’s Tories are putting all this at risk again.
We know from the 1980s that de-industrialisation hurts. Good quality jobs in manufacturing are rarely replaced with similarly good jobs. It can take towns decades to recover. If they ever do.
And in the modern economy, the services sector – in cities like Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen – employs millions of people and sells its products across the EU. What our cities lose, Dublin, Paris and Frankfurt will gain.
A hard Brexit could cost up to 80,000 jobs in Scotland.
We can’t let this happen. Let’s stay in the Single Market.
The Tories’ Brexit plans don’t just mean bad news for jobs. Problems spreading through our economy have a massive knock-on impact on the public sector too. Quitting the Single Market will land us with worse austerity than the massive cuts implemented by Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon.
Put simply: money lost – because there are fewer firms here paying tax and more red tape for those that remain – is money that isn’t there to pay for the NHS and our schools. Our Armed Forces, police, and all public servants, from street sweepers to scientists, need decent pay, and that relies on tax income.
Leaving the Single Market will stop us being able to transform the public sector and make the public investment that we know the country so badly needs. Even the minimal estimates of losing £8bn a year across the UK would mean a future Labour government in either Westminster or Holyrood would struggle to protect budgets for vital local services. And it could be as high as £45billion.
Any money we'll save in EU membership fees is dwarfed by how much how our economy will lose as a consequence of Brexit.
On top of all this, we face losing dedicated EU nationals who are keeping the public sector afloat. With an ageing population, younger workers from Europe have kept our NHS and care sector just about going. Staying in the Single Market means we not only get to keep the tax they contribute, but we also avoid a massive, and immediate, skills shortage in care.
What’s more, being inside the Single Market means we can collectively stand up to big business who fail to pay their fair share of tax. Whether it is Google or Starbucks, Single Market membership is an effective way to make sure all companies pay what they owe to keep our public services thriving.
As a Labour Party, we exist to fight for world-class public services for all who need them and a sturdy safety net for all who need a second chance.
Cut off the means to afford these by leaving the Single Market, and we won’t be able to fulfil our historic mission.
There is a reason why the Tories want to leave the Single Market.
And there is a reason why hard-line right-wingers like Jacob Rees-Mogg are fighting for Britain to crash out of the agreements that hold the Single Market together.
Their plan is to rip apart the rights and protections that the British people have come to take for granted. Whether it’s maternity and paternity rights, or rights for those with a disability, these rights at work are part of the European deal, and we do not have to leave these behind because of Brexit.
That is the Tory choice; it’s not ours.
When Labour signed up to the European Social Chapter in 1997, this is why we did so: to stop a race to the bottom, where bad firms can undercut the good employers, and where all workers are protected. This is exactly what the Tories hate about the Single Market: we can’t let them get away with trampling all over workers’ rights.
And it doesn’t end there. The Single Market also protects consumers against big business. Whether it is rip-off roaming charges on smart phones, or the right to your own data from all-powerful internet companies, the Single Market protects us all.
And finally, there is another reason hard-line right-wing Tories hate the European Single Market: it protects us from them.
When over-powerful right-wing governments have stamped all over the rights we fought for – whether in tackling injustices perpetrated by Tory governments, or trade union rights we all enjoy – British citizens have taken on the Tories with the help of our friends in Europe.
That’s why the Tories really hate the Single Market. They see anything to do with Europe as a threat to their divine right to bulldoze their way over ordinary British people.
But we have fought them before, and won. This fight is ours to win now.
Protect workers and consumers from the Tories: Labour must do all it can to keep the UK in the Single Market.
Catherine Stihler MEP
Catherine is MEP for Scotland, vice-chair of the European Parliament's Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee, and former deputy leader and whip of the European Parliamentary Labour Party.