RICHARD Leonard is facing a major revolt at his first conference as Scottish Labour leader over his failure to back permanent membership of the European single market.

Ten of Scotland’s 73 Constituency Labour Parties (CLPs) have passed motions urging delegates to support the UK staying in the European single market and customs union post Brexit.

The Central Scotland MSP, who was elected party leader in November, has to date backed UK Labour’s hard Brexit position of leaving the single market - despite Scots voting by 62 per cent to remain in the EU.

The move comes as UK leader Jeremy Corbyn is also under pressure to commit Labour to a policy of keeping the UK in the single market. A letter endorsed by more than 80 party figures including Chuka Umunna and Lord Kinnock has warned plans for investment in schools and hospitals would otherwise be unfundable.

In an interview yesterday Keir Starmer, Labour’s shadow Brexit Secretary, indicated a shift in the party’s position with support for remaining in a customs union with the EU after Brexit. However, the new position still stops short of single market membership.

Starmer told BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show: “Obviously it’s the only way of realistically getting tariff-free access, it’s really important for our manufacturing base and nobody can answer the question how you keep your commitment to no hard border in Northern Ireland without a customs union.”

Starmer said Labour had had “many weeks of discussion unanimously” and had agreed to develop their policy to be announced by the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn today.

He added that Britain was more likely to strike new deals if it works “jointly with the EU”, adding: “We all want to do bold new trade agreements but we would be better off doing that with the EU.” He also signalled support for cross-party amendments on the customs union to the Trade Bill.

He said: “The Labour front bench put down a number of amendments paving the way for the option of a customs union - they went down a few weeks ago. Now these cross-party amendments have gone down essentially saying the same thing and to put it bluntly crunch time is coming for the Prime Minister.”

In Scotland, the CLPs putting pressure on Leonard are East Kilbride, Edinburgh Pentlands, Glasgow Anniesland, Inverness and Nairn, Western Isles, Paisley, Edinburgh Western, Greenock and Inverclyde, Glasgow Kelvin and Edinburgh Southern

Edinburgh South MP Ian Murray said: “Labour members... are making their voices heard - they want our party to support permanent membership of the single market and the customs union. Given the strength of feeling among ordinary members, it’s vital that we debate this at conference.

“If we are to leave the EU, the least-worst option for limiting the damage caused by Brexit is to remain as a participant in the single market and customs union.

“This is the only way to tackle austerity, protect jobs, and defend our hard-won rights for workers and consumers. Given the arithmetic in the Commons and the fact a number of Conservative backbenchers support this stance, our continued participation in the single market and customs union is in Labour’s hands.”

Ian Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster leader said: “It’s about time Jeremy Corbyn, rather than aiding and abetting the extreme Brexit proposed by the right-wing Tories, started working in the national interest and backed the position of the SNP, and other opposition parties, by voting to remain a member of both the single market and customs union.”

A Scottish Labour party spokeswoman said: “Motions for debate are a matter for the conference arrangements committee.” The Scottish Labour conference takes place in Dundee between March 9 and 11.