THE UK elections watchdog has been asked to investigate whether Scotland’s new independence party would break the law.

The Electoral Commission has been urged to look at the relationship between the Alliance for Independence (AFI) umbrella group and the SNP.

The AFI, which is led by former SNP MSP Dave Thompson, has said it intends to stand candidates on the eight Holyrood regional lists next May to maximise the number of Yes MSPs elected.

Mr Thompson told IndyLive Radio last week that if the SNP did not win a majority in 2021 “our folk would keep them in power”.

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Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie claimed “factions within the SNP” were trying to game the system and urged the Commission to intervene to block it.

The AFI filed its registration papers with the watchdog last week.

Referring to the confusion around the 2007 Holyrood election ballot because of how some parties were described, Mr Rennie said: “I am deeply concerned by this proposed attempt to game the voting system and undermine the will of the Scottish people.

“The Electoral Commission should think carefully about whether they should allow such a registration given such recent poor experience in Scotland.

“If this faction from the SNP is allowed to register a political party, with the intentions that they have expressed, then it will result in different arms of the SNP appearing under different names on the two different ballot papers used for the Scottish Parliament elections.

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“That is confusion. The Electoral Commission should look at this seriously to remove any risk of electors being misled again.”

The AFI dismissed the suggestion that it was an SNP faction, and said that Mr Rennie’s letter smacked of desperation.

A spokesperson said: “If Willie and his Unionists are complaining, we must be doing something right. “Referring to us as a ‘faction’ within the SNP is nonsense.

“We have said from the outset that the Alliance is not aligned to the SNP and is registering as a political party in its own right.

“Voters will certainly NOT be confused by our name, which is exactly what it says on the tin – the Alliance for Independence.”

Mr Thompson last week defended the AFI’s list strategy as “tactical voting” by citing how Mr Rennie’s party has for years appealed for anti-SNP tactical votes in the Highlands.