ALEX Salmond has said that the SNP could strike an alliance with Labour to oppose welfare changes and Trident should left winger Jeremy Corbyn become his party's new leader.

The former First Minister, who said that his party's MPs had forced four government retreats since May's landslide north of the border, said it would be "easier" to work with the outspoken socialist in certain areas.

Mr Corbyn, once seen as an outsider to replace Ed Miliband, has enjoyed a huge surge in support in recent days with some sources saying he is on course for an unlikely victory. He has unveiled a policy to scrap student tuition fees, a position in line with the SNP.

When pushed over who he would prefer to win the Labour leadership, Mr Salmond said: "Certainly, if Jeremy Corbyn were leader, it wouldn't be as difficult as it might be with others to form an alliance opposing the welfare changes. Nor would it be difficult to have an alliance opposing the renewal of the Trident missile system. And you wouldn't have to ask Labour spokespeople how they were going to vote next Monday or Tuesday, you would know... At least he has a number of stated positions which people could rally around."

However, the Gordon MP revealed that he did not agree with Mr Corbyn on everything.

"There are things we disagree with Jeremy on, not least of which is Scottish independence," Mr Salmond added. "I think we'd probably have a different mix in the mixed economy. I think Jeremy might want a bit less of the private sector in the economy that I would."

While highlighting similarities with Mr Corbyn, Mr Salmond predicted that Andy Burnham would eventually win the contest to become Labour leader.

Mr Burnham is currently the bookies' favourite, ahead of Yvette Cooper who is closely followed by Mr Corbyn. Liz Kendall is the outsider at 12/1.

Meanwhile, the Scottish Labour leadership ballot is set to officially open on Monday. It has emerged that a televised TV debate between the two candidates for the top job, MSPs Kezia Dugdale and Ken Macintosh, will be screened by the BBC on July 27.

Mr Macintosh, a long-serving MSP, said it would allow members to see the "clear choice" before them.

He added: "I am pleased Kezia has accepted my challenge for a live, head-to-head debate. I am offering Scottish Labour something different. I want to take our party in a new direction, more collaborative, more positive and more forward looking. I believe we need to change some of our policies and I will bring a new style and approach to our politics... Under my leadership, Scottish Labour will be driven by our positive vision for Scotland’s future and not by our opposition to the SNP."