Unite, one of Britain’s biggest trade unions, has backed Rebecca Long-Bailey to be the next leader of the Labour Party.
It officially endorsed the shadow business secretary to take over from Jeremy Corbyn after an all-day hustings.
The move all but guarantees her place on the ballot paper, which Sir Keir Starmer and Lisa Nandy have already secured.
She already had the support of the Bakers, Food and Allied Workers’ Union, meaning she now only needs the support of one other union or Labour affiliate group to make the third and final round.
All the leader and deputy leader candidates had 25 minutes to make their pitches and take questions from union top brass at a special meeting on Friday.
But Sir Keir, the shadow Brexit secretary, sent a stand-in after his mother-in-law had an accident and had to go into intensive care.
He has extended a pause in campaigning until the end of the weekend, leading Labour to cancel its second official hustings in Leeds.
Party general secretary Jennie Formby said it was to “ensure fairness to all candidates”.
On his way into the meeting to decide who Unite would back, head of the union Len McCluskey said: “Whoever becomes the leader will have the full support of Unite and we look forward to defending working people like the Labour Party always has done.”