ALEX Salmond has launched a new party for May's Holyrood election in a move that risks scuppering Nicola Sturgeon’s chances of winning a second SNP majority.

In latest dramatic twist in his feud with his predecessor, the former first minister announced he intended to run as leader of a new list-only Alba Party.

Its candidates would need only around 10 per cent of the vote to get elected.

Mr Salmond said the idea was to get more Yes candidates elected to get a "super majority" for independence to put more pressure on Boris Johnson to grant Indyref2.

Opposition parties said it showed the divisions in the SNP were worse than even they suspected.

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Former SNP MSP Margo MacDonald was elected three times as an Independent list MSP, twice with less than seven per cent of the Lothians regional vote.

Mr Salmond would be confident of picking up a similar level of support.

Recent polls have shown the SNP on the cusp of winning a majority in May, potentially giving Ms Sturgeon the mandate for a second independence referendum.

However a campaign dominated by her war with Mr Salmond could change the SNP's prospects.

The SNP's projected success in constituencies had led to calls for separate pro-independence parties to stand on the list, where the SNP is less likely to win.

In 2016, the SNP won 59 constituences but only four list seats because of Holyrood's proportional system.

Salmond launches rival party to SNP for Holyrood election

Nicola Sturgeon will lead the SNP into the election

The Action for Independence (AFI) party, set up by former SNP MSP Dave Thompson, had been urging Mr Salmond to stand for it for months. 

However he appears to have borrowed the idea instead.

Earlier this week, Mr Salmond announced he was taking fresh legal action against the Scottish Government over its bungled sexual misconduct probe into him in 2018.

It followed a scathing Holyrood inquiry report into mistakes in the case and in the way the Government defended a judicial review action Mr Salmond sucessfully brought against it, showing the probe had been "tainted by apparent bias".

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Mr Salmond said the Government’s top civil servant, the Permanent Secretary Leslie Evans, had refused “to accept real responsibility” for the blunders on her watch.

He said: “This cannot stand. I have therefore taken legal advice and will shortly be instructing my lawyers to bring proceedings in the Court of Session arising as a direct result of the conduct of the Permanent Secretary.

"I hope it is the only legal action that I am required to take."

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said: “It shows that the divisions within the SNP are much deeper that we ever thought possible.

"After 14 years in power, the baggage of the past is beginning to weigh them down very heavily.

“Alex Salmond standing is a reminder of how divided the SNP have become, and I think it’s going to do them further damage.

“Who would have though that a former first minister of the country and former friend and ally of the current First Minister would be a direct challenge in an election?

“We need parties are able to bring the country together and focus on recovery, and you won’t get that with the SNP.”

Salmond launches rival party to SNP for Holyrood election

Douglas Ross is standing to become an MSP

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said Mr Salmond was bringing forward more division.

He said: "If Alex Salmond somehow believes he's going to make a comeback into Scottish politics, I think people will look at what has happened in the last few years, what he was accused of and indeed what himself accepted doing.

"I think he would agree with me he's a completely inappropriate person to seek elected office. He's unfit to stand for the Scottish Parliament, but yet again, again other party focusing the debate on dividing the United Kingdom and having another independence referendum.

"We need the strongest possible party to stop that and that's the Scottish Conservatives.

"I'd be uncomfortable that Alex Salmond thinks himself to be appropriate given the behaviours that he has accepted, to stand for public office and stand for election to the Scottish Parliament."