IT is hard to argue that anyone came out of June’s snap General Election looking like a big winner. The Conservatives, having had the major advantages of surprise and choice of date, lost their majority and Labour still couldn’t beat the Tories even after their dire campaign, coming third in Scotland. Even though the SNP had its second-biggest win in a UK General Election with a majority of seats in Scotland our vote went down and we lost some fine parliamentarians.

However the biggest election blow of all was to the idea that a hard Brexit and leaving the highly successful European single market had any kind of popular mandate. Those campaigning to leave the EU reaped the consequences of their own failure to provide any detail on what leaving the EU actually meant and the single market was never on the ballot.

In spite of the passage of time and Michel Barnier’s warnings about the ticking clock we are no further forward on the detail. It is well over a year since Theresa May became Prime Minister promising ‘Brexit means Brexit’ and even longer since the referendum itself.

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That failure to provide details is a cause for frustration among our European partners, not least those tasked to negotiate with a rudderless UK. Indeed in Brussels there is an increasing sense that the UK Government is not taking this terribly seriously. Yet our relationship with the EU affects all of us, our rights, opportunities, the economy and our environment. Like it or not no-one can afford to ignore the implications of the EU referendum. The snap ‘Brexit’ General Election has left some politicians feeling sore and a continuing sense of drift at Westminster. However it should also be seen as an opportunity. A hung parliament provides MPs from across the political spectrum with the pragmatism and willingness to reach across the aisle the opportunity to shape the debate about our future relationship with Europe. Minority government means that it is now Parliament that holds the whip hand.

That means that all sorts of areas that were not on the ballot in June 2016 are now up for grabs. That could be good news for our food and drink sectors, universities and energy industry among others who all rely on the opportunities provided by being part of the EU and in particular the single market.

It is easy to see where alliances could be built up and those of us with a pro-Europe disposition could work together in a constructive way.

Scottish parliamentarians can have a particular role to play in helping bring Westminster together. Scotland’s new Conservative MPs are so far untainted by the divisions that played havoc on its parliamentary party during the EU referendum. Similarly the new Scottish Labour MPs have also come in without having been part of the civil war that surrounded Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.

It is time for Parliament to start flexing its muscles and there is no reason why that cannot start among all of my colleagues in the Scottish contingent. The leaders of all of Scotland’s political parties represented at Westminster expressed their commitment to the European single market both before and after the referendum in June. Back in July 2016 Ruth Davidson said: “I want to stay in the single market ... even if a consequence of that is maintaining free movement of Labour”. David Mundell said after the referendum: “I very much want to see Scotland within the Single Market”. This was reflected by Labour’s Scottish leader who said she was “absolutely committed to EU and single market and supportive of SNP efforts to retain both”.

Given these commitments membership of the single market is back on the table as a direct consequence of the voters decision at the General Election. If Scottish Labour MPs can bring unity to their parliamentary colleagues on this issue, working with the SNP as the third biggest party in Westminster and the 13 Scottish Conservative MPs there would be a majority in favour of the single market. That would help safeguard jobs, opportunities for young people, safeguard the rights of EU Nationals and the rights that we gain as EU citizens. It would also demonstrate a willingness to put party interests to one side for the common good.

During the independence referendum Scots were told to lead in the UK. Right now the UK is badly in need of leadership. On Friday the Taoiseach referred to “Brexit as the challenge of this generation” in a visit to Belfast. He is right and it requires us to put political differences to one side where we can.

Scotland’s new intake of MPs have a historic opportunity to make our mark, lead and save the UK from the cliff edge of leaving the European single market. We should grab it with both hands. That really will be Scotland leading in the UK.