Anas Sarwar has dared the SNP leadership candidates not to support a Labour minority government after the next general election.
During a televised debate on Monday, Kate Forbes, Ash Regan and Humza Yousaf said the price of doing a deal that would put Sir Keir Starmer in Downing Street would be an independence referendum.
Labour leader Sir Keir has repeatedly ruled out a deal with the SNP, most recently at the Scottish Labour conference in Edinburgh last month.
Parties at Westminster can form a government if they do not have a majority of seats, but would be forced to make deals with other parties to pass legislation – including budgets and the legislative programme laid out in any King’s speech.
Speaking to the PA news agency, Scottish Labour leader Mr Sarwar said: “The next general election, it’s either going to be a Labour government or it’s going to be a Tory government.
“We’re going all-out to get a majority Labour government across the country.
“If we’re in the situation where we can form a minority Labour government, there’s no need for any deals, there’s no need for any stitch ups – the SNP faces a straight choice.
“They can either choose to elect in a Tory government or they can choose a Labour government.
“I dare them, I dare Humza Yousaf, Kate Forbes or Ash Regan to put in a Tory government and you will see how Scotland responds to you.”
Speaking during a visit to a men’s shed in Glasgow, Mr Sarwar also took a swipe at the candidates, describing Ms Forbes as an “economic and social conservative”, Ms Regan as “economically illiterate” and Mr Yousaf as “incompetent” and “out of his depth”.
Mr Sarwar said: “We were promised we were going to get the big talents of the SNP and if these are the three best talents the SNP has to offer, then I think Scotland will come to its own judgment.
“I think Scotland deserves better than all of them.
“The challenge that we have is that we have got to, with humility, go out there and earn people’s trust, demonstrate to people that change is possible, that this isn’t as good as it gets.”