TOMMY Sheridan’s Solidarity has formally joined forces with Scotland’s new independence party, teeing up a possible comeback for the convicted perjurer.

The Alliance for Independence (AFI), which plans to field list-only candidates next year to ‘max the Yes’ at Holyrood, confirmed Solidarity had agreed to stand under the AFI banner.

Solidarity, which Mr Sheridan formed in 2006 after his bitter split with the Scottish Socialist Party, is the first pro-independence party to come under the AFI umbrella.

Its ruling executive agreed the move on Saturday, and the party will now get a seat on the AFI’s steering group and other bodies.

The move will fuel suspicions that the AFI is being used as a Trojan horse by Solidarity to rehabilitate Mr Sheridan, whose political career imploded in scandal a decade ago.

The AFI was set up by former SNP MSP Dave Thompson to harvest pro-independence votes on the regional list system, which only returned four SNP MSPs in 2016 because the party did so well on the constituency vote.

Mr Thompson argues the AFI could get 24 MSPs if voters who would normally vote SNP backed it instead, increasing the pressure on Westminster to grant Indyref2.

However the SNP and Greens have refused to stand aside on the list, meaning the AFI could split the pro-independence list vote in 2021.

Mr Thompson said Solidarity would get a number of “winnable” places on the lists, and it would be up to Solidarity whether it selected Mr Sheridan as a candidate.

He said: “We are delighted that Solidarity has decided to fight next year’s Holyrood election under our banner.

“We hope that this will encourage the other smaller pro-indy parties to seriously consider the option of now uniting with AFI and Solidarity to create an unstoppable force for independence at next year’s election.”

Asked if he had any qualms about Mr Sheridan’s character, Mr Thompson said: “We’re a broad kirk.

“Our whole reason is to unite everyone across the political spectrum.

“Therefore Solidarity are just as welcome as any of the smaller parties.

“ I get on fine with Tommy.

“I have no problem with him.

“It’s not for me to judge other people’s morals. I’m happy for Solidarity to nominate whoever they wish in due course to the places that we negotiate for them.

“It’s not for me to make any judgment on that or to tell them what they do.”

He rejected the suggestion that Solidarity were “playing the AFI like a fiddle”, saying: “I don’t know where you would get that idea from. I don’t see how one person can control and dominate a steering group of 15.”

Mr Sheridan, 56, was sentenced to three years in prison in 2011 for committing perjury in the £200,000 defamation action he won against the News of the World in 2006.

The now-defunct tabloid had claimed he visited a swinger’s club while a Glasgow MSP.

The scandal saw Mr Sheridan quit as leader of the Scottish Socialist Party and form Solidarity.

He currently works for the Kremlin-funded propaganda outlet Sputnik news, where he has said UK claims of Russian election interference are “fact free” and suggested the 2018 nerve agent attack in Salisbury was an anti-Russian smear.

Solidarity has been involved with the AFI from its foundation.

Its first meeting in Glasgow in February was chaired by former Solidarity organiser Steve Arnott and co-hosted by former Solidarity co-convener Pat Lee.

In a statement, Solidarity said: “Solidarity believes that the 2021 Holyrood election is the most significant in the new Parliament’s 21-year history. This election will determine Scotland’s future and will historically be referred to as the Independence Election.

“Should the Scottish people elect an independence supporting majority next May it will make IndyRef2 inevitable in 2021.

“Given the consistent and significant lead for Yes in an unprecedented eight successive opinion polls, independence will be the outcome of that new referendum.

“Uniting the pro-independence second vote in those elections is imperative.

“In 2016 almost 1 million second votes for the SNP were not just wasted votes but actually assisted unionists to get elected.

“Despite attracting over 953,000 second Regional List votes the SNP failed to secure a single list seat in six of the eight regional list areas.

“In these special circumstances Solidarity agrees to join the Alliance for Independence project to unite as many of the smaller independence parties as possible.

“In so doing we would encourage other independence supporting parties like the Greens, SSP, ISP [Independence for Scotland party] and others to follow suit.

“Maximum unity behind the Yes parties is absolutely essential in 2021.”

Earlier this month the Electoral Commission refused to register the AFI as a party in c ase its name misled voters by exaggerating its supporters among pro-independence parties.

Mr Thomson said the AFI would now cite Solidarity’s membership “as proof that other smaller pro-indy parties will, indeed, join AFI under our umbrella, in the hope that this may alter their view on the acceptability of our name”.