Scottish Labour leadership candidate Anas Sarwar has said he supports permanently remaining in the single market and called on Scottish Conservative MPs to help vote down a bad Brexit deal in the UK Parliament.

The MSP said it would be a "calamity" if the party loses membership of the single market and said voting to trigger Article 50 was a "mistake".

He criticised his party colleagues, including his leadership rival Richard Leonard, who defied the party whip and joined the Tories to back triggering Article 50 in a symbolic vote at Holyrood in February, saying: "We need a leader who fights a Tory hard Brexit, not one who backs them on hard Brexit."

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In a speech at The Lighthouse in Glasgow, he said does not believe that a hard Brexit is "inevitable".

He said: "Let us not forget that Theresa May doesn't have a majority. There are 13 Scottish Tory MPs in Westminster. They can help to stop a hard Brexit if they do the right thing by the people of Scotland they represent.

"We can vote down a bad Brexit deal in the UK Parliament."

He added: "It was a mistake to trigger Article 50. It will be a disaster if we can't secure transitional arrangements after 2019.

"It will be a calamity if we lose membership of the single market and the customs union."

He continued: "We will not just oppose a hard Brexit. Under my leadership, we will support remaining in the single market and the customs union. Permanently."

He added: "And let's hear no more excuses about how a radical socialist plan will be held back if we remain in the single market. Tell that to the Dutch, the French and the Germans with their state-owned railways."

He also warned politicians against exploiting fears over immigration, saying: "Our own party must never repeat the falsehood that it is immigrants who are responsible for downward pressure on wages."

Mr Sarwar acknowledged his plans could "put me at odds with some in the UK party".

UK Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn faced pressure at last month's party conference to commit to remaining in the single market permanently after Brexit.

He told the conference Labour would negotiate a Brexit deal with the EU that "guarantees unimpeded access to the single market" but also said that Brexit, though "difficult", could make it easier to pursue a programme of nationalisation and state support for industry.

Mr Sarwar also addressed Scottish independence, which he said Scottish Labour under his leadership would "never" support, blaming the "apparent ambiguity" around the party's position on the union for losing votes to the Tories in the June snap election despite winning back voters from the SNP.

He said the Labour campaign he led for a No vote in the Scottish independence referendum should "never apologise" for its "victory" and pledged to Yes voters he would "deliver change not through separation - but through socialism".