TOMMY Sheridan’s Solidarity party has joined the Alliance for Independence, leaders have confirmed. Sheridan launched Solidarity in 2006 and remains at the top of the party.

Now it has agreed to join the Alliance for Independence (AFI) umbrella group in a bid to “Max the Yes” vote in next year’s Scottish Parliament elections.

The news comes a fortnight after the Electoral Commission rejected AFI’s bid to register as a political party on the grounds that the name may be confusing to voters.

AFI will meet with the elections watchdog this week in an attempt to resolve the issue.

Solidarity is the first party to join AFI and will now have a seat on the steering group.

Interim AFI leader Dave Thompson, a former SNP MSP, said: “We are delighted that Solidarity has decided to fight next year’s Holyrood election under our banner. It is great that Solidarity realise the potential of all of the smaller pro-indy parties coming together to ‘max the Yes’ in next year’s Holyrood election to build a super-majority for independence.

“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.”

Thomson, who was an MSP from 2007-16, has said AFI could secure as many as 24 seats next year by contesting the regional list.

Confirming the move, Solidarity has renewed Thomson’s appeal to other pro-independence parties to unite through AFI.

This includes the Scottish Greens, suggesting the six-MSP party could do even better under the AFI umbrella.

The call also extends to the Independence for Scotland Party(ISP), which was formed this year, and the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP), which Sheridan used to lead before a bitter split surrounding his libel case against the News of the World.

In a statement, Solidarity said: “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 and, 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 one 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.

“We would encourage other independence supporting parties like the Greens, SSP, ISP and others to follow suit.”

The Scottish Greens told the National: “The only way to ensure a Yes majority in parliament is to vote for parties who actually elect MSPs. The most effective way to secure that majority is to vote Green, just as it was in 2016.”

ISP leader Colette Walker said: “We are a registered political party and have a set of policies which we believe will be attractive to voters.

“Our focus is on building support for independence and for the view that Scotland does not need permission from Westminster to hold a referendum on our future. We wish those behind the proposal all the best but we have no intention on having our candidates selected by anyone except our own members.

“We think it is important to be clear with the electorate about who they are voting for and what policies they can expect their elected representatives to stand on and as such we won’t be joining with any other parties.”

The SSP said it has not formally discussed the matter, but is “inclined to run its own candidates next year for Holyrood”.