JEREMY Corbyn will use a visit to Scotland this week to categorically rule out the prospect of a so called 'progressive alliance' between Labour and the SNP ahead of the 2020 General Election, the Herald can reveal.
The hardening of the Labour leader's stance on the issue comes as party members and registered supporters today (Mon) start to receive ballot papers for the contest that took a dramatic twist with London mayor Sadiq Khan calling for Corbyn to be ousted.
Last night it emerged that Mr Corbyn will use his visit that includes a head to head debate with Owen Smith in Glasgow and a series of rallies and campaign events, in locations such as Edinburgh and Dundee, to hit back by ruling out any pact with the SNP.
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Mr Corbyn's pledge comes after SNP grandee Kenny MacAskill called for such a deal and shadow ministers Dave Anderson and Clive Lewis also hinted as support for a similar arrangement.
Shadow Scottish Anderson, an MP for a constituency in England, provoked a backlash from Scottish Labour when he suggested an SNP deal may be "the price that we have to pay to prevent another rabid right-wing Tory government".
Mr Lewis, the Shadow Defence Secretary said the only way to get Theresa May out of office is to bring all anti-Tory votes together in a “progressive alliance”.
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said a deal with the Nationalists "just wouldn't work" and Anderson's predecessor, Ian Murray, said advocates of an SNP deal demonstrate "a lack of understanding of the political dynamic in Scotland".
However, Scottish Labour supporters of Mr Corbyn will this week get assurances in public from the UK party leader during one of his most wide ranging campaign visits ever to Scotland that such a deal would be permanently off the table if he is reelected next month.
Mr Corbyn's Scottish campaign director, Labour MSP Neil Findlay, who is the party leader's closet ally in Scotland, confirmed that the announcement would be the cornerstone of the Islington North MP's charm offensive north of the Border.
Mr Findlay said: "There will be no progressive alliance with the SNP and I'm expecting Jeremy Corbyn to rule that out this week."
"It's based on what I know", he added.
The ramping up of Mr Corbyn's anti-SNP message will be seen as an attempt to bolster his support in Scotland, where senior party's figures such as Edinburgh South MP Mr Murray have said he should quit as Labour leader.
The Labour leader's two day visit to Scotland starts in Livingston on Thursday, followed by a rally for members in a Glasgow hotel before a leadership hustings with Mr Smith, who quit as shadow work and pensions secretary in protest at Corbyn's leadership.
Corbyn will also attend an event in Edinburgh and a rally in Dundee on Friday.
Mr Findlay, a Lothians MSP, said that Mr Corbyn's ruling out of a pact with the SNP was because of cuts the party's ministers had made to areas such as local government, which Labour claimed ran into hundreds of millions of pounds in the last budget.
He said: "I don't think the SNP will be able to take any comfort from a Jeremy Corbyn victory.
"Jeremy Corbyn is coming to Scotland and it will be made clear that there will be no progressive alliance with the SNP.
"The SNP does not act progressively in government, but seeks to talk progressively at Westminster where it has no power.
"Providing a credible and Socialist radical alternative to nationalism is what Jeremy is all about and we'll be making an appeal to the people of Scotland on that basis.
"I fully expect Jeremy Corbyn to rule out any alliance with the SNP."
However, Chris Stephens, the SNP MP for Glasgow South West, said it would be unforgivable to allow the Tories to remain in power if there was the prospect of cross party cooperation to oust them.
Mr Stephens, the SNP trade union and workers' rights spokesman at Westminster, said: "It's too early to discuss anything for an election that's four years away, but the question the UK Labour party has to ask is if they would subject Scotland and the rest of the UK to a Tory government with rabid right wingers or join with others to build a better society?
"It would be simply unforgivable to allow continued austerity either for reasons of arrogance or tactical naivety in circumstances where it was possible to prevent it."
Meanwhile, Findlay claimed that a defeat for Mr Corbyn in the leadership election would strengthen the SNP and the independence movement, as it would mean Labour would have a weaker stance against austerity under Smith, who last year abstained on the controversial Tory welfare bill last year.
Findlay said: "I think that Owen Smith's election would be welcomed by the SNP more than a victory for Jeremy Corbyn would be.
"There's no ambiguity about the anti-austerity platform of Jeremy Corbyn, whereas Owen Smith's record does not perhaps stand up to the same scrutiny."
Corbyn's dramatic intervention in Scotland comes after Khan, who had previously said he would not take sides in the leadership contest, stated that he was now backing Smith as Labour was "extremely unlikely" to secure a return to power under the current leadership.
Leadership challenger, Smith, welcoming the Labour London mayor's support, said: "I'm hugely honoured to have Sadiq back me to be the next Leader of the Labour Party."